Year Of Wonders Essays Vce

READING & COMPARING TEXTS: ​THE CRUCIBLE AND YEAR OF WONDERS CLASS ACTIVITIES


VCE ENGLISH UNIT 2

1 COMPARING TEXTS – THE ESSENTIAL TOOLS

A comparative essay demonstrates your close knowledge and understanding of two texts. These points of

comparison may be similarities or differences between the texts, such as the presentation of key

concepts including ideas, issues and themes, or the textual features such as plot, character and setting that

authors use to convey particular perspectives. The ideas themselves might vary slightly between the texts

especially if they were written in different times or places. The process of reading and responding to two texts

together will enhance your understanding of each.

Just as crucially, creators of texts can present similar ideas and themes in ways that contrast significantly,

depending on their use of features such as narrative viewpoint, setting, plot, language and imagery.

Identifying points of comparison allows you to consider the ways that the intertextual connections contribute to

and help to shape new and enriched meanings for readers. Your ability to analyse the impact of these connections

on the reader will form the basis of your comparative response.


Your response will be a formal written essay on a set topic or question.

A sample, annotated Comparative response to these texts is featured on p 152 – 155 of your blue Reading and

Creating, Reading and Comparing textbook.



Your turn – Why ‘Year of Wonders’ and ‘The Crucible’?

Write two other sentences explaining the reasons for creating this combination.

E.g. Year of Wonders and The Crucible




Reasons for pairing:

1. Both texts explore small communities confronted with crisis. The texts consider how such conflicts

shape relationships and values, and they question the value of faith in times of need.

References: Beardwood, R., English Year 11, Insight, 2015

Heinz, K et al, Reading and Creating, Reading and Comparing, OxfordUP, 2015


VCE ENGLISH UNIT 2

COMPARATIVE TEXT RESPONSE – BUILD YOUR RESPONSE WITH THESE

ESSENTIAL TOOLS


1 IDENTIFYING SHARED IDEAS, ISSUES AND THEMES –

THEMES - VENN DIAGRAMS AND MIND MAPS


When comparing texts, your focus will be on the ideas, issues or themes they share. Once you have

identified these shared concerns, you can analyse the different perspectives each text brings to them,

such as:

 considering similar ideas in different historical, social or cultural contexts

 presenting different points of view on an idea or issue

 asking different ‘big questions’ about an idea

 exploring different consequences of an idea or an issue in society

 using features of the text form (e.g. novel, play, film, non-fiction narrative) to highlight problems

or explore questions – which is especially relevant when the two texts have different forms.

For example - Key ideas, issues and themes

Geraldine Brooks ‘Year of Wonders’ (novel, 2001)

 fear in response to plague

 remaining true to ones values under pressure

 family and community bonds being tested

 how people respond when facing death

 truths revealed in times of crisis

Arthur Miller ‘The Crucible’ (play, 1953)

 fear in response to threat

 values and ideology in a theocracy (strict moral and ethical codes)

 community and group coherence under pressure

 individual perceptions

 betrayal and scapegoating

and many more…

ACTIVITY – DRAW A VENN DIAGRAM

A Venn diagram is a concise visual way to show similarities and differences between themes

and ideas in two texts.

Draw a Venn diagram showing a range of themes in your two texts. Think carefully about where

you place each theme; you might find the two texts have more in common than you first

imagined. Keep themes and ideas simple at this stage. Use single words or short phrases. You

can add to this as you continue your study.

Sample Venn Diagram on p 94, English Year 11 (Insight) – Scanned Doc on Google Classroom

References: Beardwood, R., English Year 11, Insight, 2015

Heinz, K et al, Reading and Creating, Reading and Comparing, OxfordUP, 2015

ACTIVITY – DRAW MIND MAPS FOR A SHARED THEME

Sometimes when two texts have a main theme or idea in common, each author will take up

different aspects of the theme, and express different points of view on it, in relation to the story

they are telling and the characters they have created. Identifying different aspects of a main

theme will give you some key points for comparing and contrasting two texts. Mind mapping is

an effective tool to help you do this.

(See also blue Reading and Comparing Textbook p 92- 94 for further reading / examples)

1. Select one of the shared themes you identified in the Venn Diagram. For each text, create a

mind map showing different aspects of the theme as well as three or four key quotations

directly relevant to the theme.

2. List any similarities and differences between the two mind maps. Does this indicate that,

although both texts explore this same overall theme, they do so in contrasting ways? Explain

your answer.

See Sample Mind Map on P 95, English Year 11 (Insight) – Scanned doc on Google Classroom.

POINTS OF VIEW ON IDEAS, ISSUES AND THEMES

A text expresses a point of view when it takes a stance or position on a theme. The text’s point of

view is its overall message on a theme or idea.

The point of view is written as a complete sentence, such as:

It is important to try to achieve justice, even when it comes at a cost.

Because a text’s point of view is implicit, not explicit, different readers will write it down in slightly

different ways – this is where personal interpretation comes into analysis.

ACTIVITY – DRAW A MIND MAP SHOWING POINTS OF VIEW

1. Choose a main theme presented in both your texts. Make a list of the points of view on this

theme presented in each text. Use a complete sentence to write about each point of view.

2. In your two lists, which points of view are the same or similar? Which are different?

3. Create a mind map using the sample on p. 96 English Year 11 (Insight) ( Scanned doc on Google

Classroom) as a guide. In the centre, place the points of view that apply to both texts. At the sides,

place the points of view that relate more to one text than the other.

4. Write two or three sentences about the main similiarities and differences you can see from your

mind map.

You can create further mind maps based on other main themes common to both your texts.

References: Beardwood, R., English Year 11, Insight, 2015

Heinz, K et al, Reading and Creating, Reading and Comparing, OxfordUP, 2015

THE BIG QUESTIONS

All narrative texts ask ‘what if?’ questions in order to set up intriguing situations, create tension and

drive the plot. Texts can explore broad ideas such as justice or fear in contrasting ways by asking

different big questions about them. For example:

 Is justice always worth pursuing at any cost?

 Is fear necessarily destructive?

 How do people in societies with strict rules and conventions find a way to express their

individuality?

What are some of the ‘big questions’ posed in Year of Wonders and The Crucible?

Texts do not always present clear answers to the big questions they raise. Looking at conclusions or

resolutions can be one way to see if there is a clear point of view on a question or an issue explored by a

text. If the tension is definitely resolved one way or the other – perhaps happily, as in a marriage or a

new relationship, or sadly as in a death – it is likely that the text presents a clear message or point of

view. On the other hand, if things are left ‘up in the air’, leaving the reader or audience with a sense of

doubt, then the point of view might be ambiguous or unclear.

ACTIVITY - ANALYSE THE BIG QUESTIONS

1. For each of your texts, think of three ‘big questions’ that they ask about shared ideas or themes. How

similar are these questions? How different are they?

2. Consider the ending of each of your texts. Are any of the big questions you identified in question 1

answered or resolved at the end of the narrative? If so, explain how they are answered and what point

of view the text is presenting.

3. Discuss any similarities or differences between your texts that you can identify from your answer to

question 2.

ACTIVITY: Crucible Group Work.

​GROUP 1: ARTHUR MILLER
Aim to answer the following questions in your presentation
  1. Any important biographical information? Who was he married to?
  2. What other works is Arthur Miller known for?​
  3. What political/historical events inspired Miller to write The Crucible?
  4. What is The Crucible about? How would you give a brief overview? What's the setting? What is the theme (central topic)?
Check out the following links to help you with your researchGROUP 2: WITCHCRAFT BACKGROUND
Aim to answer the following questions in your presentationCheck out the following links to help you with your research
  1. What was witchcraft? Who practiced it?
  2. Describe the social response to witchcraft in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. 
  3. What social and religious factors are given to account for the harsh response to witchcraft?
  4. What can you find out about modern witchcraft or wicca?
GROUP 3: SALEM WITCH TRIALS
Aim to answer the following questions in your presentation
  1. What started the Salem Witch Trials?
  2. How many people were killed/jailed?
  3. How could something like the Salem Witch Trials happen? Consider the time period, population, and religious beliefs.
  4. What is mass hysteria?​
Check out the following links to help you with your researchGROUP 4: MCCARTHYISM, COMMUNISM, & THE RED SCARE
Aim to answer the following questions in your presentation
  1. What is McCarthyism?
  2. Who is Joe McCarthy?
  3. What is Communism?
  4. What is the Red Scare?
  5. How did McCartyism negatively affect the lives and careers of certain people? How did it affect Arthur Miller?
Check out the following links to help you with your research

The Crucible & Year of Wonders - Sample Essay 2 (Digital Only)

ISBN: Insight Digital
Insight Sample Essays are high-level sample essays written by experienced teachers, assessors and experts in the analysis of literature, poetry, film and dramatic texts. Each sample essay shows students how to identify and analyse the explicit and implied ideas, values and themes in each text, and the ways in which textual features create meaning.
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FEATURES
➜ Essay topics designed to conform in style and focus to the 2017-2021 Study Design for VCE English/EAL
➜ Annotations, with assessor comments identifying the elements of the essay that work well, as well as identifying areas for improvement
➜ Tips on how to approach the essay topic, with appropriate strategies for analysis and selection of relevant textual material

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