Hello! I’m looking for some feedback on an essay I did for the 2.1 assessment
Analyze how language features were used to create a vivid setting.
It would be helpful if I can get insight on:
- What grade is the essay currently at? And how I can improve it to an Excellence if needed.
- Do I have any unnecessary information in my essay?
In the novel “Looking for Alibrandi” written by Melina Marchetta, the author expertly used language features to vividly portray the story setting which highlights the importance of social status. The novels tells the story of Josephine Alibrandi who was born into a middle class immigrant family and attends a prestigious Catholic Girl’s School called St Martha’s on a scholarship. As a middle class immigrant young girl, Josephine found herself in the middle of the upper class’s world, full of influential families and snobby teenagers such as Ivy Lloyd. Marchetta’s use of language features such as dialogue, first person perspective and imagery in the portrayal of Josephine’s experience successfully established the setting of an upper class world with no place for those lower in the social status hierarchy. This allowed the readers to gain a deeper understanding of the Australian setting, and to be able to understand how lower class Australian citizens are affected and treated differently due to their social status. Marchetta expertly shaped the reader’s point of view to this middle-class young girl who are bullied, evoking a sad emotional responses from the reader who feel sympathy for lower class citizen in this hierarchy setting. The author positioned the viewer to have a vivid understanding, and recognize the unfairness of the social hierarchy established in this setting.
Firstly, Marchetta expertly used the language feature of first person perspective from Josephine Alibrandi, allowing the reader to understand the experience of a ‘lower status’ girl and how she is treated in this setting. Throughout Josephine’s experiences at a prestigious school, she interacts with the character Ivy Lloyd, a teenager that comes from influential family part of the upper class. Through this, Josephine thinks “If your mother didn’t drive a Volvo, you were a nobody. That’s where the problem lies between me and our school captain, Ivy Lloyd.” This narration from Josephine’s perspective established how the society within this setting had pushed Ivy and Josephine apart, determining their worth on the status and wealth of their family. Josephine also describe how she feels as if Ivy looks down upon Josephine in a smug and egocentric way, further highlighting Josephine’s insecurity as someone part of the middle class, someone at a lower status. Josephine recognize and is frustrated that the actions of others within this setting (such as Ivy) is determined by ‘what car her mother drove’. In this usage of first person perspective, the director successfully evoke a sad and frustrated emotional response from the reader who was able to gain a deeper understanding of the lower class’s experience in this setting. The author portrayed the setting of Australian society, linking it to the statistic of 11% of Australian citizen within the established affluent social class in a study by Australian National University. This group is made up by people with authoritative occupation such as surgeons like Ivy’s father who feels that they are ‘superior’ from the rest of 89% of Australia. Marchetta effectively portrayed this setting of a society with status hierarchy vividly, by illustrating the mistreatment towards those in the lower class like Josephine. The reader is able to have a deeper understanding of how society have a mentality which places high importance on one’s status to determine their worth. Through the use of first person perspective, Marchetta successfully allowed the reader to have a deeper understanding of the social hierarchy present in this setting of Australian society.
Marchetta also successfully used the language feature of dialogue between Ivy and Josephine, to clearly reinforce Ivy’s place in society within the upper class and privileged. The techniques used by the author established how the society within this setting categorized Ivy with other successful and higher status families. This was highlighted in the dialogue said by Ivy in reference to John Barton, a son of an influential politician “We’re in the same circle of friends.” This usage of dialogue by the author reinforced how those within the upper class status will only interact with others within the upper class, clearly separate from the rest of the lower class. The quote was said “in a smug tone”, because Ivy had known Josephine was listening. This illustrates the how status within the society of this setting formed worlds separate from each other. Ivy and John were a 'great match" due to the similar prestige of their family. Ivy sees that Josephine was middle class and didn’t have parents that drove Volvo, due to this, Ivy sees Josephine as clearly below Ivy and someone who could never be the same ‘level’ as Ivy and John. The author’s expert use of dialogue helped the reader gain a deeper understanding of the way upper class are clearly separate and better than the lower class in this setting. The viewer is able to appreciate Melina’s expert portrayal of this setting with an unfair social hierarchy as a portrayal of Melina’s own experience in Australian 1992 society when she wrote “Looking for Alibrandi.” Melina was also born into an Australian immigrant family that was part of the middle class like Josephine. Melina’s family were discriminator due to their social status and were forced to hold difficult and undesirable jobs due to the fact that they were just “poor pests that came from oversea”. This theme of social hierarchy is especially relevant in the setting of our own 2022 New Zealand society, where those apart of the lower class (majorly made up of immigrants) are also mistreated and seen as below the upper class. Marchetta once again successfully linked this back to the 11% Australian citizen who were upper class, feeling clearly superior and separate from the rest. The reader is positioned toward a frustrated and mad emotional response, as they are able to gain understanding of this setting more vividly.
Furthermore, Marchetta also expertly combined the language feature of imagery to the last 2 language technique to further showcase this corrupted society more vividly. The author fused the usage of first person perspective from Josephine with imagery when Josephine described Ivy as “Poison Ivy.” This assisted in creating a vivid physical representation, comparing the rich and snobby Ivy Lloyd to the plant Poison Ivy. The reader was able to gain an imagery of a poisonous plant that releases toxins, leaving behind painful marks to those that comes contacts with it. The author illustrated the effects that 'Poison Ivy" had on Josephine’s life, creating distasteful experiences. Josephine description of Poison Ivy in a negative way portrayed how those within the lower class, victims to the mistreatment by the society in this setting due to their social status, views those in the upper class negatively. The effect of the social status hierarchy present in this setting had caused those within the lower class to feel bitter, hating the upper class and viewing them negatively. The author expertly linked this to when Josephine thought “It makes me feel like I will never be a part of their society and I just hate that because I’m just as smart as they are.” The author showcased the consequences of this society where those in the lower class that were subjected to discrimination becomes bitter, and frustrated against this unfair society in this setting. This is supported when Melina again used imagery in Josephine’s quote “I want to belong to her world… A world where I can be accepted.” Melina painted an image in the reader’s mind of a setting where people feel they must be apart of the upper class to be accepted and viewed as worthy, and spared of discrimination. From this, the lower class builds bitterness and hatred towards the upper class, while the upper-class feels disgusted and displeased by the presence of lower class people. This juxtaposition of mindset between those from different social class at this upper class Catholic school had been formulated by the author through the perspective of Josephine. The reader is able to recognize the gap and social hierarchy between people of different social status, gaining a more vivid understanding of this setting. Specifically how those lower on the status hierarchy are ‘looked down upon’ and the lower class can only look up upon the other from far away, each separate from each other. This theme resonates within readers, allowing them to relate to this theme in their own experiences. I have experienced this as a person who live in a lower income area, and felt out of place when I visited higher income area. I was amazed by the more technologically advanced rubbish bins at private schools in rich areas, and felt their students was judging and laughing at me because of that. This is due to the face that the society of my New Zealand setting also have a status hierarchy where lower class and upper class people are clearly separate from each other. I am able to sympathize and have a more vivid understanding of people like Josephine and her experience as a lower status girl in an upper status setting.
In conclusion, Marchetta proficiently incorporated the 3 language features of dialogue, first person perspective and imagery, to create a vivid setting that readers can gain a deeper understanding of. The author successfully did this, allowing the reader to understand this setting where the key theme of social hierarchy exists. The language features successfully portrayed 2 girls, Josephine and Ivy from opposite worlds of social class each had their own response and representation of themselves based on the ideas present in their society and setting. The reader could analyze Ivy who was smug and egocentric due to being upper class, contrasting to Josephine who was treated like an outcast and not accepted due to her lower status. Melina Marchetta is to be praised on how she was able to successfully use language features in “Looking for Alibrandi”, combining the language features effectively to allow the readers to gain a vivid understand of this setting with a social hierarchy, and recognize the consequences that comes with it!
Any help would be appreciated, thank you!