CIE English Lit: I’m the King of the Castle REVISION

Material to help with revision of Susan Hill’s novel. Is there a more unsettling exploration of childish cruelty? I realise that my revision powerpoint does not focus on innocence and experience to any degree. This is an issue of time, rather than complacency – it should emerge in discussion. The powerpoint below is mine. The other documents can be credited to my predecessor at JLS, Anna Paul. Many thanks.

IKOTC revision

Revision Booklet king of the castle

key quotes to be used for quotaton quest starter or as basis for analysis practice

Opinions About the Novel

chapter summaries

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CIE English Lit: Passage Question, an approach.

This is a PowerPoint and timed response to a passage question based on the Summer 2014 examination. Feel free to use it as a marking exercise. I am not claiming A* quality – rather an attempt to hit the criteria in a limited time and to focus on the passage, rather than trying to use the question to put al my knowledge into a single response.

IKOTC setting

A screencast can be found here:

How does Hill create atmosphere in the passage beginning “ Kingshaw stood at the gate…”?

This passage comes from late in the novel, after Kingshaw and Hooper have been climbing on the walls of Leydell Castle. Hooper has fallen and broken his leg and Kingshaw is left alone at Warings with time on his hands to consider his action and begin to explore his guilt. The passage can be seen as a stage in Kinghaw’s journey from innocence to experience and possibly as a key step towards his eventual suicide.

The passage opens with Kingshaw “stood on the gate for a long time” as he considers crossing the boundary from the man made world to that of nature. He decides, however to remain on the side of the Church and to enter the building. Hill creates a sense of order and of nature being harnessed to man’s wishes by describing the “clipped… and neat” grass and the “straight” hedge. The setting is one of order and suggests that transgression will not be tolerated. This sense of potential threat is increased by the gargoyles, although Kingshaw “would not be afraid of them in the daylight”, suggesting that the absence of fear is only temporary. A she enters the church, Hill use sensory imagery to highlight the unwelcoming nature of the building: it “smelled as if no living, breathing creature had ever been there”. By introducing the idea of an absence of life, Hill is preparing the reader for Kingshaw’s confession which will appear later in the passage – he wishes Hooper were dead. The atmosphere of decay is further highlighted by the piles of Hymn Books with their “spines and backs hanging off.” The books are described in technical language, but the notion of personification and therefore of death is clear to see.

In this setting, Hill uses verbs to highlight aspects of Kingshaw’s character to develop the sense of threat which pervades the whole passage: He”dared” himself to enter the chancel and later, when interrupted by the voice which we know to be Fielding, he “spun round in alarm”. Although he enters the church on a whim, Kingshaw is affected by the religious aspect of the building once in side and falls “abruptly” to his knees, the adverb suggesting a spontaneous response. He has not planned his Confession, though it comes. He explores his guilt and finds no release from it. Indeed his final “cry” of “Oh God…” suggests total despair. Within the church, his immediate feeling is one of powerless ness as he recognises the enormity of “God and Jesus and the Holy Ghost”. He is a young boy being made to face up to his inner fears.

It is in this section that Hill uses a variety of sentence structures to help to convey the rising panic in Kingshaw’s mind and to increase the sense of tension in the passage. Sentences are generally quit short and matching action to sentence length. However on 173.5 Kingshaw begins his Confession. Hill writes without the use of speech marks here possibly to convey a sense of this being spoken inside his head. The sentence is long and confused – mirroring Kingshaw’s state of mind: “O God I didn’t mean it -yes I did…” The punctuation allows the change of thought to interrupt the flow – it is not a new idea, rather it is a development of the first idea: a correction. The paragraph closes with a powerful short sentence “I am trying to be sorry.” which adds a sense of desperation to Kingshaw’s thoughts. He is “trying”, which suggests that the feeling may not be sincere. In the paragraph that follows, Hill switches back to the Omniscient Third Person narration which dominates the novel. It adds a sense of detachment to the narrative, as though there is a higher power who knows the working of Kingshaw’s mind and is sharing them with the reader. This continues the sense of weakness and insignificance that Kingshaw felt on entering the church. As Kingshaw again begins to “speak”, outlining his sense of panic with the repetition of “please” as he begs God to help him and culminating in his despairing cry “O God”, Hill uses an ironic touch by introducing direct speech for the first time the passage. It is as though God has responded. The tone is abrupt and non-comforting – “what’s the matter with you?”. The voice continues by asserting boundaries and showing that Kingshaw has transgressed by entering beyond the chancel railings. The irony is that the reader will discover that this is not the voice of God or of any authority figure, but of another small boy – Fielding who offers a short-lived chance of hope to Kingshaw, before Hooper can poison this final chance of friendship.

The passage shows Kingshaw to be at the end of his emotional tether and becoming aware of the notion of morality with regards his thoughts. The fall at Leydell Castle had not been his fault and had come after his one and only real triumph over Hooper. What he realises is that he actually wishes Hooper to be dead. This is is conveyed in a passage in which the atmosphere is by turns threatening and full of despair.

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30 Incorrectly Used Words That Can Make You Look Horrible

Originally posted on TIME:

This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at

While I like to think I know a little about business writing, I often fall into a few word traps. For example, who and whom. I rarely use whom when I should. Even when spell check suggests whom, I think it sounds pretentious. So I don’t use it.

And I’m sure some people then think, “What a bozo.”

And that’s a problem, because just like that one misspelled word that gets a résumé tossed into the “nope” pile, using one wrong word can negatively impact your entire message.

Fair or unfair, it happens.

So let’s make sure it doesn’t:

Adverse and averse

Adverse means harmful or unfavorable; “Adverse market conditions caused the IPO to be poorly subscribed.” Averse

View original 1,082 more words

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Horses: Edwin Muir

A powerpoint to support the teaching of the poem Horses in the CIE English Literature collection for 2015. The You tube link is to the channel : Poetry Revision with Mr Brooker. My channel: John Lyon English Department subscribes to this excellent resource and the videos can also be found there.

Horses Muir.

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Filed under CIE IGCSE, EDEXCEL IGCSE, GCSE support, IGCSE support, poetry

Frankenstein in prison: themes and ideas

This is a lesson in which year 12 were tracking thoughts, themes and ideas relating to Frankenstein’s time in jail in Ireland.

Their table-top notes are found here: frankenstein tables prison  What really pleases me about this sort of work is the energy with which the task is handled.  Every student contributes and moments of clarity radiate from students as they come across ideas for themselves, not because one of the “usual suspects” holds forth and the others nod…  independence.

The tables cover all sorts of discussion – The structure of the frames, the mirroring of Justine’s imprisonment, the structural balance of these echoes, the role of Father as a saviour and Victor’s cowardice when given the same chance earlier in the novel, Ireland as a symbol of the oppressed beneath an Imperial yoke, Victor getting justice (and a good room) due to his gender and status,  The nature of Victor’s Hell, Personal Hells according to Milton in Paradise Lost, Victor gaining freedom only to suffer more…  and so on.  All in 55 minutes.  Cracking stuff!

And they cleaned the tables afterwards.

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Filed under Frankenstein, OCR A level, Paedagogy

How does Hopkins reflect the idea of God The Creator in the poem Pied Beauty? Timed response

Written in response to Year 11 who wrote the same essay this afternoon.  I will use this as a reference and get them to mark it.  Feel free to use it in any way you wish.  I do not claim it to be brilliant, but in 35 minutes, I am not sure that i could do better.  I like to write the same essays as my students – if I can’t do it, I should not be asking them to do so!

How does Hopkins explore the idea of God The Creator in PIED BEAUTY?

An essay under timed conditions at my kitchen table: 35 minutes.

Planning: points I want to make • Curtal Sonnet – focus on Love and shift after a volta • Psalmic tone • Sprung Rhythm • Use of pairing throughout poem – compounds and juxtapositions • Nature and human element • Shift after volta to allow for the negative and ill-perceived to gain credit • Final line.

In his curtal sonnet Pied Beauty, Hopkins calls on the reader to give praise to God for creation not of the wonderous and pure, but for “dappled things”. He uses sonnet form in a condensed version to express his love and to allow for a subtle shift of emphasis after line 6 –the volta of this reduced form.

The introduction tries to show a clear understanding of the form of the poem and its relevance whilst also establishing a thesis for the rest of the essay.

The idea of “dappled things” is picked up immediately in the compound adjectives of the opening sestet. Hopkins writes of the “rose-moles” on the trout and calls attention to the beauty – “rose” having connotations of natural beauty – of the disfigurement which can cover this fish. Similarly he uses the stark pairing of “couple-colour” to introduce comparison with a “brinded cow” through the use of a simile. Here the purpose may not be simply to show the clear patterning of the hide as resembling the sky, but rather to engage with the idea of the mundane or utterly taken for granted having beauty.

This paragraph focuses on compounds – a key feature of the writing of this poem. I might have extended this idea to draw more attention to the use of juxtaposed doubles throughout the poem if I had more time.

The poem opens with a strong injunction to bring “Glory to God”. Use of Hopkins’ favourite sprung rhythm throws the stresses onto the first syllable of each foot here and helps to create a sense of joy in the psalm-like poem. This effect is redoubled at the end of the poem by the use of the double monosyllabilic final line: “praise him” is a clear imperative which allows no room for discussion. The deeply religious Hopkins is asserting his belief that God is responsible for all the wonders in the world –even those that are not immediately recognized as such.

Here I return to the start of the poem to discuss rhythm and its intended effect. I link the opening to the final line to ensure that I am looking at the poem as a whole unit of meaning.

This idea is shown in the opening sestet when he juxtaposes the works of God, against the works of man by introducing “trades, their gear, tackle and trim”. Alliteration helps to link these ideas together and to create a sound world which is picked up again in Line 9 when the al;literative S of the list of opposites: “swift,slow;sweet, sour; “ soften into the Z and D patterning of “adazzle,dim.” It is as though “Dim” is emphasized by the altered alliterative pattern and removal of the assonantal A vowel because Hopkins wants the reader to recognize the beauty of such a negative concept as “dim”.

This paragraph follows on naturally from the previous one to enlarge on the idea of the mundane and develops the alliterative patterns found within the poem.

This line is found after the volta and a subtle change has taken place. At the start of the poem, the reader is presented with praise of couplings that might go unnoticed, yet from Line 7 the comparisons are with the “counter” and the “strange”. Hopkins wants the reader to note the negative beauties, not just those that often pass unobserved. This allows him to introduce the “fickle”- the untrustworthy and the “freckled” after which he asks a rhetorical question in parenthesis. This “who knows how?” suggests not just the idea of God being omniscient, but also the sense of wonder that Hopkins feels when faced by such a range of delicate design.

Following on again and linked clearly to the previous paragraph, the argument now assumes understanding of technical lexis and offers an interpretation of the second section which reflects the sonnet form of the writing.

The poem was written in 1877, nearly 20 years after Darwin had published the Theory of Evolution. Hopkins adopts an evangelical tone in this poem and even has a dig at the Evolutionists with his mention on Line 4 of “finches wings”. Darwin had based much of his research on finches. Here Hopkins seems to be stating a clear belief that whatever variation was evident, it was a result of divine planning, rather than evolution. For Hopkins, God is the creator and will continue to be so, as he “fathers-forth” all things “whose beauty is past change”. This compound not only suggests an eternal creator but also a great Patriarch thus not only creating but also protecting and teaching.

Brief context is introduced here to offer a rationale for the abrupt “finches wings” and to allow me to suggest that there is an evangelical tone to the poem – it is more than praise, it is seeking to convert or to convince.

The curtal sonnet is a reduced form. Here, instead of a Shakespearian final couplet, the brevity is maintained in the imperative “praise him”. The final line is a mere spondee, a pair of monosyllables which round of the “psalm” with a clear instruction.

The last paragraph refers back to the first and reiterates the comments about form made earlier. It tries to sum up the “idea” of the poem whilst showing more technical language.

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Was Victor Frankenstein right to destroy the female creature?

Year 12 have just debated this motion:


The idea comes from my teaching outline, published on an earlier blog;

frankenstein teaching

Feel free to listen and to use this as a basis for discussion.


Filed under AQA LitB 4, DEBATE FRANKENSTEIN, Frankenstein, OCR A level

Doubling in King Lear and approaching speeches

A short PowerPoint to offer a task designed to increase the engagement of students with doubling in King Lear.  I also attach an approach to two speeches in Act 2.

lear 6 doubles

act 2 speeches an approach

Hopefully these will be of use.

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On the Doppelganger

A powerpoint for use in Frankenstein teaching:


It includes a link to the Schubert song of the same name as additional stimulus.


Filed under AQA LitB 4, Frankenstein

Passage to Africa, responses Year 10

My new Year 10 have been working with a few Thinking Hats – the sound of @TomBennett71 screaming rings loud in the ether…

I am not a fan of over use of this technique, but the combination of an eager and intellectually astute group of boys and the nature of the passage makes this a useful tool for exploring Alagiah’s work.

They will be downloading their responses below.  Feel free to take a look.

passage y 10

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