Message of Author in ‘Burial Rites’ by Hannah Kent

This Resource is for Year 10-11 Students studying ‘Burial Rites’ by Hannah Kent in the Mainstream English Curriculum in Victoria

Image result for pictures of burial rites by hannah kent

How do you elevate your essay to become more sophisticated, analysing with insight and thus achieve a higher mark in your SAC or exam?  Include in your Body Paragraphs the Message of the Author that links directly to the essay prompt.

Why include Message of Author?

In your essay you are going beyond the literal [factual] meaning of the words in the text to find significant and unstated meanings of authors.  Essentially you are examining how the author:

  1. Sees something: their views ie. his/her opinion, perspective, way of thinking, impression or observation.
  2. Thinks about something: their values ie. his/her principles, morals, ethics or standards.
  3. Ways the author uses to construct the text.

As you construct your essay, based on the prompt, you need to determine what the author thinks about the issue and how they discuss their viewpoint in the text.

See the source image

Look at this essay structure where the prompt is answered clearly:

Prompt:  “Burial Rites depicts a society in which power and strength are valued more than compassion and love”.

Body Paragraph 1 = Cause of power & strength of Icelandic society

Body Paragraph 2 = Response of individuals

Body Paragraph 3 = Consequence of why love and compassion is important to society

Message of Author is colour coded 

Introduction / Message of Author

On face value 19th century Icelandic society represented in Hannah Kent’s historical novel Burial Rites does endorse power and strength over compassion and love.  The text depicts a harsh patriarchal society that is reflected in the severe, intolerant nature of the law and social structure it serves.  In such a society, it is not uncommon for the poor and weak to be strongly disadvantaged and women to have little power relative to men.  While power and strength may dominate in the wider community, the text also emphasizes the profound effect that storytelling has on individuals, eliciting empathy and understanding thus making a difference to those around them.  Kent illustrates that the power of stories can surpass the prejudice ingrained in people, bringing comfort and love to even a brutal world, displaying how love and compassion are almost necessary in any society.

 BP1 Cause = Main Contention / The harsh patriarchal society of Iceland depicted in the novel not only favours an intolerant and brutal judicial system but it also uses violence against the poor and disadvantaged as an instrument of power by its administrators.

BP1 Message of Author / Consequently Kent highlights in 19th century Icelandic society the poor and women are strongly disadvantaged with little power relative to men.

 BP2 Response = Main Contention / While power and strength may dominate in the wider community; the text also emphasises the profound effect that storytelling has on individuals whose Christian values of love are embedded in their culture.

BP2 Message of Author / Kent illustrates that the power of stories can surpass the prejudice ingrained in people, bringing comfort and love to even a brutal world

 BP3 Consequence = Main Contention / The text promulgates that displaying love and compassion are necessary to any society

BP3 Message of Author / The text illustrates that compassion and love shown at the end of the novel are more powerful than power and strength as Toti, Margret and the family learn to see Agnes as a person ensuring her memory is not lost.

Conclusion / Message of Author

In the main, Burial Rites depicts a harsh society where the strong exercise power over the weak and there is little room for kindness or sympathy.  However, Kent highlights that there are individuals in the text whose compassion and love for their fellow Icelanders offset the brutality of the context in which they live.  This is particularly evident in the way that through the power of story-telling Agnes allows Toti, Margret and the family at Kornsa into her life’s narrative and the result is their love and compassion make a real difference to Agnes before she dies.

All Resources created by Online Tutoring using Zoom for Mainstream English Students in the Victorian Curriculum

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *