Full mark Band 6 Creative Writing SampleDecember 13, 2020
HSC Module A: 20/20 Essay notes for The Tempest and HagseedDecember 17, 2020
Module B is also called a ‘critical study of literature’. Hence, it is
1. Make personal and intellectual connections with the text. You must try
to have your own ideas about what the composer is trying to convey. For Eliot’s
poetry, many students only focus on its bleak and depressing aspects, yet it is
extremely important to also perceive its subtle allusions to hope and
salvation, especially in later works.
2. Understand textual integrity – that means you must look at the texts as
a cohesive unit, or as a whole. Focus on the connections in the prescribed
suite of poetry – the scrutinising “eyes”, the monotony of modern life,
decadence of social values, etc.
3. Take note of the context and structure of each poem – although this is
not module A, understanding the context of each poem allows you to comprehend
the significance and artistry of Eliot’s poems. For example, without knowing
anything about Modernism, how is it possible to appreciate how well Eliot
captures the lethargy and decay in his era?
Historical Context: The Early 1900s
Historically, Eliot’s poetry captures the turmoil of a generation
transitioning from the Romantic era to the demoralised landscape of Modernism.
Modernism became even more prominent after World War I, where the value of
human life and civilisation was heavily questioned by the general public. This
period in time was generally associated with subverting Victorian/Romantic
ideals, secularity (deviance from religion), industrialism and technological
advancement. In particular, technological advancements became synonymous to
social upheaval for many in the late 1800s to early 1900s, for people feared
their efficiency will change society too much for people to ever adjust to.
History is often reflected in literature. During the Modernist era,
composers became more experimental, often rebelling against well-established
conventions to reflect reality more closely. Not only is this evident in the
structure of Eliot’s poetry, it is also quite obvious in his titles (e.g. The
love song of J. Alfred Prufrock, Preludes, Rhapsody
on a Windy Night).
Traditionally, Eliot’s ‘early works’ include:
The Love Song of J.
And his ‘later’ works include:
The Hollow Men
Journey of the Magi
By ‘Journey of the Magi’, Eliot had become an Anglican, hence the heavy
There are many themes in Eliot’s poetry, but try to avoid ones that are
For example, instead of writing a paragraph on ‘uncertainty’, make it
more nuanced and specific, e.g. uncertainty because of paradigmatic shifts.
That way, not only have you shown your personal understanding of
his poetry, your essay will also stand out against essays which demonstrate
only a superficial understanding of the poems.
Some prominent, yet interesting points you could write about in your
Paradigmatic shifts and
Loss of spirituality
Loss of purpose and
search for meaning
Physical setting of the
Modernist landscape reflecting psychological/internal uncertainty
Want to know more about these ideas? JP English provides text specific
booklets written by state rankers which outlines the key ideas of each poems to
guide students into developing their own nuanced arguments. Furthermore, we
provide exemplars from ex-students who have achieved state ranks or 95+ English
HSC marks so that students know exactly what is needed to ace Module B.
Special Structural/Stylistic features
of each poem
Here are some features of Eliot’s poetry that I found particularly
unique and intriguing. Of course, there are so many others, but here are some
of the main ones.
The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock
The title itself is
extremely ironic. ‘Love Song’ suggests intimacy and connection and yet this is
completely subverted by Prufrock’s pedantic, ambiguous narrative of isolation
intertextual allusions towards the end of the poem.
know the voices dying with a dying fall” is from Shakespeare’s Twelfth
o “I am Lazarus, come from the dead” is
a biblical allusion to Lazarus whom Christ raised from the dead.
rejects the idea that he is Prince Hamlet, a character whose tragedy could
arguably be said to have borne out of his indecision.
The idea of Prufrock as
a flaneur, a wanderer amidst the modern landscape.
Again, the title is
very ironic. The
cohesive lyricism of the Romantic preludes is completely subverted by Eliot’s
very disturbing portrait of sordid Modernist imageries.
pronouns shift from section to section, examining the society from different
Rhapsody on a Windy Night
· Again, Eliot appropriates the episodic,
free-flowing structure of Romantic Rhapsodies while inspiring the portrait of a
fractured and denigrated world.
There’s also quite an
evident struggle between nature (the feeble, voiceless moon) and humanity (the
The recurring time
motifs, “Twelve o’clock”, “Half past one”, “Half past two”, etc places emphasis
on the regularity and indifference of time.
The Hollow Man
· The various intertextual allusions in this poem:
o It begins with an
allusion to Joseph Conrad’s ‘Mistah Kurtz’, a sinister imperialist.
o The epigram, ‘a penny
for the Guy’, refers to the Gunpowder Plot and Guy Fawkes
o “The twilight kingdom”
is an allusion to Dante’s hell
o “Here we go around the
prickly pear” is an allusion to the nursery rhyme/children’s song “Here we go
‘round the mulberry bush”.
This is somewhat
debatable, but it could be said that this poem depicts a world where religious
entities and cosmic powers are apathetic to human suffering.
Journey of the Magi
· Eliot’s recent
conversion to Anglicanism inspired his intertextual reflection on traditional
ideals of Christianity through appropriating the “Three Wise Men” in seeking
materialism of “summer palaces on slopes” is quite evident in the early stanzas
· In this poem, the search for meaning is both a spiritual and literal journey.
Read scholar articles –
for Eliot, there are so many excellent articles out there. They help you
articulate your ideas and inspire you to view the text from a different
perspective. Just go on Google Scholar and type ‘Eliot poetry’. There are so
many resources there!
· Practice! – the only way to get better is through practice. Not only does JP English provide you with ample exercises, but they also provide weekly feedback so you can improve.