Analytical & Creative Responses for The Quiet American by Graham Greene

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Analytical & Creative Responses for The Quiet American by Graham Greene

You need to show how wide-ranging your thinking and hence your writing can be.  In terms of your specific response for The Quiet American, have a look at some of these ideas for essays:

Expository Essay

  • Put a creative twist on it, remember expository means ‘exploring complex ideas’ this doesn’t mean it has to be an essay
  • What about an article about the war written by Fowler?
  • A telegram?
  • Using an outside quote or scenario to set the scene or introduce an idea to your audience in an interesting way
  • A speech by one of the characters?
  • A beyond the grave reflection from Pyle about his life choices?
  • If you do an expository essay you need to show real depth of thought and strong outside links in order to stand out and show new insights
  • Think about what purpose / moral / lesson you are trying to get across to your audience in the essay

Creative / Imaginative Essay

  • Ground it in the text, write from a minor character’s point of view
  • Re-write a key scene from an alternate perspective to shed new light on the conflict at hand
  • Write one of Fowler’s news articles or telegrams
  • Write about something we hear about in the text but they don’t really explore it close up
  • Start with a purpose, who are you targeting in this narrative?
  • Why? What moral / lesson is there that they need to learn?
  • Use significant, powerful, vivid quotes from the text as a framework for your creative piece
  • Draw on Greene’s writing style, especially if what you are writing needs to be true to the text
  • Embed ideas about the prompt in a subtle manner
  • Draw on themes, key ideas, symbols, imagery to connect your  creative piece to The Quiet American

Private Home Tutoring of English Not an On-Line Free Tutoring Service

I am NOT an on-line free tutoring service.  My resources on this website are for general use only.  I do not write student’s essays for them or give advice on essay prompts. However, for more intensive tutoring in a specific area of English, I will visit students in their own homes for private tutoring sessions that are paid on an hourly basis.


View from Castle Rock by Alice Munro

Image result for pictures of the imaginative landscape

With particular reference to students studying The View from Castle Rock by Alice Munro

What is the Imaginative Landscape?

One of the simplest ways to define an Imaginative Landscape is as our perception of the world around us.  Such a perception might be figurative, intellectual, emotional or concrete.  Each of us has our own ideas about the physical, social, conceptual and psychological worlds we inhabit, and we communicate these ideas, in a variety of ways.  They might be conveyed as discussions or in art, or they might be implied through beliefs, values and moral or ethical views.

First of all, break down the terms of the Imaginative Landscape:

What does the literal word ‘landscape’ allude to?

  • views, features, shapes, distinguishing features and characteristics of land
  • scenery, terrain, geography, nature
  • representations, directions and points of view
  • processes and events which might shape physical landscapes (such as erosion)

What does the word ‘imaginative’ connote, broadening possible landscapes to include those which are less literal?

  • creativity, illusions/alternative realities
  • other aspects of the world
  • emotions, memories, subjectivity
  • metaphor, symbolism, artistic representation
  • communication

 Writing The Imaginative Landscape, Context in the Exam, Section B

This is a writing exercise not a text response, but students must use the text in some way.  There is no rule about how much; this will depend on your writing style. You do NOT have to refer to the text in every paragraph — a key word or idea from the text need come up only once in the entire piece or the text may be a thread running right through the writing (for example the retelling of a story from The View from Castle Rock from the viewpoint of a another character).

The Exam says you may write in any style, imaginative, persuasive, expository (or a blend of these).  In reality this means any style.  No one style gives an advantage over the other and you should aim to write to your own strengths.

The bottom line is that the Assessors are looking for good writing:

  1. that incorporates the ideas of Imaginative Landscape
  2. has some relationship to the text The View from Castle Rock
  3. has a reference to all or part of the prompt

A prompt is not a question, it is a springboard for your own writing, so unlike a text question you do not have to deal with every part of the prompt, but you must incorporate some of the perspective on the Imaginative Landscape raised by the particular prompt.

For students studying The View from Castle Rock where is the Imaginative Landscape? 

Munro herself noted that ‘landscape is so important’.  In Castle Rock, landscapes are both literal [factual] and figurative [or metaphorical/symbolic].  The book’s framework is Munro’s imagining of one possible landscape, which she maps through time and space that is of her family history.  It is not just the physical setting of the landscape but also the subjective experience and representation of the settings.  This is important within the Context of The Imaginative Landscape because it is not just landscapes that deserve consideration, but an individual’s experience of landscapes, and the ways in which an individual represents and imaginatively conceives landscapes.

Therefore, literal landscapes are explicit [clear/open] in Castle Rock, while figurative landscapes are more implicit [hidden/unspoken].  This is shown when the characters and most notably the central narrator (who remains unnamed, but is closely aligned with Munro herself) encounters with various landscapes and the communication of those encounters through both speech and writing are significant.

A.    Physical and Geographical Landscapes in Castle Rock

Since Castle Rock is about tracing family connections, recording memories, and committing history and experience to narrative record, the focus on geography in the early parts of the novel suggests that such physical landscapes are vitally important to our own understanding, not only of place, but also of culture, history and family.

  1. ‘No Advantages’, the first story firmly establishes the importance of physical/geographical landscapes, the historical context, meanings of the word ‘Hope’ and personal observations.
  2. The geographical locations are more than simply backdrops or settings for the stories they establish the tone, the intentions and themes of the entire narrative.
  3. The narrator introduces herself into the story, placing herself as a traveller in the geography of Ettrick.

 B.    Domestic Landscapes in Castle Rock

Houses are domestic landscapes with central importance in Castle Rock.  Munro sets various stories and key incidents within these domestic landscapes so the houses become as important as the characters and explore insights into the characters and relationships.  The domestic landscapes are often in harmony with their surroundings (the physical and environmental settings) and sometimes in contrast with what surrounds them.

C.     Historical and Ancestral Landscapes

Castle Rock documents the geographical history of the Laidlaw family, but it is also an historical exploration of the narrator’s family history.  She begins her story in the present, visiting the Ettrick Valley, then takes us back to the early 1700’s to introduce Will O’Phaup.  His story is told in the present tense using a third-person subjective point of view so that we are closely aligned with the character.  He is a vibrant character that Munro wants us to know and care about and he sets the scene for the other characters that will help us gain a sense of the narrator’s historical landscape.

D.    Imagined Landscapes

While Castle Rock is grounded in physical landscapes inhabited by its characters, it also alludes to other landscapes that characters may never see but are able to imagine.  These imagined landscapes contextualise the ‘real settings’, demonstrating the character’s awareness that their own surroundings are small elements of the global landscape.

Consider these imagined landscapes:

  1. America is both a real landscape and for James Laidlaw who dreams of going there, an imagined, wondrous land of opportunity (p.30)
  2. Mary Laidlaw shows curiosity about a fellow passenger’s accent, she wonders what part of the country or the world he could have come from, realising she has led a sheltered life in a small rural community (p.37)
  3. The narrator has a suitcase that smells of imagined landscapes of trains, coal fires and cities of travel (p.252)
  4. The narrator’s father has a fondness for and familiarity with, the world as represented in his Historical Atlas (p.299)
  5. The book’s final image is the narrator’s imagined landscape of the tremendous pounding of the sea (p.349) recalling the sea that the Laidlaws traversed at the beginning of the text
  6. The young narrator’s imagined world of exciting things (sexual things) which have not actually happened for her yet (p.251)

E.     Written Landscapes

A central theme in the text is the idea of re-creating history and physical landscapes through written communications.  ‘No Advantages’ introduces this theme, with Munro offering us a written description of Ettrick, but she also relies on historical documentation which describes the landscape.  She also uses other sources of written landscapes, her father’s memoirs, Walter Laidlaw’s journal entries, Big Rob’s descriptions of Morris Township or oral descriptions of the characters.

F.     Remembered Landscapes

There are times when characters recall landscapes of home of their past, and these can be private recollections not turned into stories or maps.  Memory functions as a kind of informed, backward looking imagination.  Examples of remembered landscapes in the text include:

  • Edinburgh Castle which appears very different to Andrew Laidlaw on his return visit from his recollection of it (p.31)
  • The country store in Grey county where the narrator once had an ice cream (p.140)
  • The farmhouse where the narrator lived (p.288-289)
  • The farmland near the house where the narrator grew up, in which many structures such as barns, and fences have been removed, making the countryside (paradoxically) appear smaller (p.343-344)
  • Jamie Laidlaw’s home which the family had to leave, memories of which prompted his plan to hide his baby sister and blame Becky Johnson so that the whole family would return home (p.95-107)

Locating Ideas in the Imaginative Landscape

These are key points in the structure of any narrative text.  When finding ideas in the text, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Crisis points– major dilemmas characters have to deal with.
    1. Does this crisis alter a character’s perception of the landscape?
    2. Does a crisis or turning point coincide with a change in the landscape?
    3. A personal crisis can bring about a change in an individual’s relationship with the landscape
  2. Turning points– points in the text where a character has to make a decision or when something occurs to cause a change of direction in the character’s life.  The characters then look closely on events and reflect on them, as these give a real sense of the long term impact of crucial events.
    1. Do any reflections consider relationships with the landscape?
    2. Are any landscapes transformed in the character’s mind?
    3. Reflection on the significance of a landscape brings about a reassessment of its value.
  3. Forging and breaking relationships– revealing experiences revolve around the forcing and breaking of relationships.  Consider more than relationships between individuals, but also between groups and even nations that have far reaching consequences.
    1. Does a new or broken relationship cause reconsideration of the value of the landscape?
    2. Do any new relationships introduce new ideas about the value of the landscape?
    3. Our perception of the landscape is often changed when our relationships begin or end.
  4. Journeys and Quests– journeys often represent growth.  A physical journey usually parallels an inner journey from adolescence to maturity, from innocence to experience, from lack of self awareness to self awareness.  Quests involve a search for something valuable and usually require many obstacles to be overcome.  Journeys and quests can reveal and test the emotional and spiritual development of a character.
    1. Journeys to and through new landscapes are often used to represent an awareness of a new inner landscape
    2. Does this occur in View from Castle Rock?  If so, are the changes beneficial?
    3. A journey to a new landscape can bring a sense of renewal.
  5. Settings and Contexts– settings can range from historical period in which the text is set to physical locations and social contexts, urban or rural landscapes, wealthy or poor social contexts.
    1. Is a landscape shown to have a significant impact on an individual’s responses to life?
    2. Is a connection to the landscape shown to be a major factor in a person or group’s belief system or sense of emotional well-being?
    3. Landscape is neutral, it only gains significance because of the ways in which people imagine it.

Private Home Tutoring of English Not an On-Line Free Tutoring Service

I am NOT an on-line free tutoring service.  My resources on this website are for general use only.  However, for more intensive tutoring in a specific area of English, I will visit students in their own homes for private tutoring sessions that are paid on an hourly basis.


Poetry Analysis Step by Step

Why Read Poems?

Some people say they don’t like poetry, it’s boring or they don’t understand it.  I think poetry is more like a song, the more you hear it the more you like it.  The words are very similar to poetry; in fact we can break down the verses of songs and see the meaning as poetry.

Poetry doesn’t have to be boring; it can also be funny like limericks.

Start with a Step by Step Analysis

Have a look at this Poetry Analysis Step by Step Flow Chart in PowerPoint to show you the way to read and understand a poem.  Follow it below as well with a full explanation of the Poetry Analysis Step by Step.

Poetry Analysis flow chart

1. Read a poem 2 or 3 times

Each time you read a poem you notice different things

When you read the poem a second time you pick up on ideas and themes that you may have missed the first time you read it.  Also the poet can have ideas hidden just below the surface of the words and as you read it again, the new ideas can jump out.

2. Paraphrase the poem by stanza next to the original text

Writing it in your own words is a good idea to make sense of the poem, so you know what it means in simple terms

Stanza means the verses of the poem just like a song

How the poet organises the stanzas in a poem is often an important aspect of the poem’s structure.  Nothing in a poem is by accident.  Poets choose their words carefully as well as giving careful thought to the form and layout of the poem.  You should ask yourself why the poet has done this or that because there will be a reason and there is an effect for everything in a poem.

3. Answer the 5 W’s

Who? Who is the poet referring to?

What? What is the poem about?

Why? Why is the poet writing about it?

When? When is the poem set, the time period?

Where? Where is the poem, the place the poet is taking about, the setting?

4. Identify the theme, message or topic

What is the poet trying to say? What is the poet’s message in the poem?

What is the point? Is the poet trying to make a specific point in the poem?

5. Identify and Highlight Examples of Literary Techniques


Definition: Simile is when you compare two nouns (persons, places or things) that are unlike, with “like” or “as.” “The water is like the sun.”  “The water is like the sun” is an example of simile because water and the sun have little in common, and yet they’re being compared to one another. The “is” is also part of what makes this stanza an example of simile. “The rain falls like the sun,rising upon the mountains.”


When something is described in terms of something else, ‘her eyes are the stars in the sky’ is a metaphor as one thing her eyes is being described in terms of another thing the stars. Metaphors are comparisons that show how two things that are not alike in most ways are similar in one important way. Metaphors are a way to describe something. Authors use them to make their writing more interesting or entertaining. Unlike similes that use the words “as” or “like” to make a comparison, metaphors state that something is something else.


Poets use words to create images in your mind.


This is the repetition of a consonant sound in the words.  For example slippery slithering snake is alliteration.


This is where human qualities or emotions are given to non human things.  The wind howled in agony all day.  He gazed at the angry sea.


The overall mood of the poem, the emotions can be sad, optimistic, solemn.

Point of View

From what point of view is the poet writing.

Private Home Tutoring of English Not an On-Line Free Tutoring Service

I am NOT an on-line free tutoring service.  My resources on this website are for general use only.  I do not write student’s essays for them or give advice on essay prompts. However, for more intensive tutoring in a specific area of English, I will visit students in their own homes for private tutoring sessions that are paid on an hourly basis.


Metalanguage for Drama and Plays

Plays have Some Special Features

Although many features of drama are similar to those of other narrative fiction genres, plays have some special features, most of which are directly related to the fact that a play is intended to be heard and seen as a live performance.  As drama is spoken, there is no narrative voice to describe places and characters or to explain characters’ thoughts and motives.  With the aid of stage directions, the dialogue has to create the characters and the context for the narrative, generate the narrative momentum and generally fill the audience in with background information.

Elements of Drama

Many students will be familiar with drama associated with news and programs on television that have heightened emotions, extremely intense situations, unpredictable and even horrific outcomes.  Most of these elements of drama are found in great tragedies in movies and stage drama like the works of William Shakespeare.  Elements found in tragedies include conflict, suspense, distress, pain and suffering.  Comedies, on the other hand set up conflicts of a different order, they are often based on misunderstandings between characters and fraught relationships.

Metalanguage [the language to describe language devices]

When you look at metalanguage for drama and plays there are some specific terms that are distinctly different from narrative texts.  However, many terms can be interchangeable with drama to create the appropriate meaning in the context of the drama or play being performed.

Below is a list of Metalanguage for Drama & Plays

The list incorporates other terms from narratives that you can consider when describing significant moments in a play that you are studying.

Metalanguage for Drama & Plays



Act The major sections into which plays are divided.  Each act includes several scenes.
Allegory Story in which there are 2 meanings, a literal meaning and a symbolic representation of the story.
Alliteration Repeating the initial consonant sounds of words close together to achieve an effect.
Allusion A reference to a famous figure or an event from literature, history or mythology.
Analogy A comparison to things that are very alike.
Antagonist A character opposite to the protagonist (main character).
Aside A short speech that a character gives directly to the audience.  Other characters remain on stage but it is understood by the audience that they cannot hear the aside.
Caricature Exaggerated description of a person.
Context Environment and situations surrounding the text.
Chorus A group of actors in Greek tragedy who are not characters in the play.  They speak between acts and comment on the morality of the characters’ actions and decisions.
Dialogue Anything said by one character to another character.  A play is written in dialogue.
Drama A work intended for performance on stage by actors.  Most drama is divided into the genres of tragedy or comedy.
Denouement The unraveling of a plot.
Dramatic irony Irony understood by the audience but not the characters in the play.
Epilogue Closing part of a speech or play.
Epitaph Statement carved on a tombstone that sums up a person’s life.
Eulogy Speech at a funeral.
Euphemism Indirect way of saying something that is unpleasant.
Fable A short story that has a lesson in life.
Flashback Device used by writers and film makers to return to events in the past.
Imagery Pictures created with words.
Irony Literal meaning is different from intended meaning.
Melodrama Play based on exaggerated or sensational part of a story.
Metaphor Figure of speech comparing one object with another.
Mise en scene Stage or film setting with all the elements that form the scene.
Monologue A part of a drama in which a single actor speaks alone.
Paradox A statement that appears to contradict itself but has some element of truth to it for example beautiful tyrant.
Personification A type of metaphor in which objects or animals are given human characteristics.
Plot Sequence of events in a text and play that tells the story.
Playwright The writer of the play.
Prologue Introduction to a play.
Protagonist The main character.
Repetition Repeating words over again for effect.
Scene Smaller sections into which the play is divided within each act.
Set Backdrops, furniture and props on the stage used to set the scene.
Setting Time and place in which the action occurs.
Soliloquy A speech made by a character when alone on stage.  Soliloquies let the audience know what the character is thinking and feeling.
Stage directions Made by the Director to help create meaning and establish settings and sound effects for the audience to follow.
Symbol Something used to represent something else.
Theme Central idea or issue behind the text or drama.
Tragedy Drama that tells of serious events that end with disastrous consequences.
Tragic hero Main character who suffers a down fall due to defeat or weakness in their character.

Private Home Tutoring of English Not an On-Line Free Tutoring Service

I am NOT an on-line free tutoring service.  My resources on this website are for general use only.  I do not write student’s essays for them or give advice on essay prompts. However, for more intensive tutoring in a specific area of English, I will visit students in their own homes for private tutoring sessions that are paid on an hourly basis.