in AQA, English Language, Writing Skills

Below, you’ll find a high-grade student example answer for AQA GCSE Language Paper 2: Writer’s Viewpoints and Perspectives, Question 3. I’ve added in the mark scheme notes to show why this would receive a high level.

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EXAMPLE FULL MARK ANSWER (A* GRADE / L9) 

You now need to refer only to Source B, the letter by Henry written to his father. How does Henry use language to try to influence his father?

[12 marks]

Firstly, Henry’s letter is highly persuasive as it uses emotive language to make the father pity him and his situation. The use of first person ‘I’ establishes a personal feeling in the letter, giving a sense of Henry’s own character, whereas the collective pronoun ‘we’ creates a persuasive impression of the deep connection between Henry and his father, although we realise that it is ‘nearly two years’ since they have seen each other. Furthermore, Henry states that he is ‘very unhappy’ to have not received a letter from the ‘Master’, the adjective ‘unhappy’ deliberately incites the emotions of pity and sadness early on, emphasising the sense that Henry is lonely and unable to communicate properly with the outside world, which is the reason for his need to write a ‘sly letter’. 

Secondly, Henry uses a desperate tone to emphasise the urgency of his situation, and therefore convince his father to take action imminently.  The repetition of the verb ‘hope’ emphasises the fact that Henry’s situation is dire and that he is desperate for something to change in the near future. Additionally, Henry uses hyperbole to convey the extreme difficulty and discomfort of his situation: ‘our bread is nearly black…our beds are stuffed with chaff… we are used more like Bears than Christians’. The final simile is likely to be highly effective on his father, as in the 19th century people held strict Christian beliefs, so the image of his son being treated like an animal rather than a civilised and spiritual human being would be especially shocking. Also, the plosive alliteration of ‘bed’, ‘black’ and ‘beds’ creates a violent impression, perhaps used to remind the father of the earlier idea that the Master would ‘flog’ Henry if he found out he had been writing letters.  

Thirdly, though the language is persuasive it is also kept highly formal, which would have been in keeping with the father’s traditional values. He uses the term of address ‘my dear Father’, which is both polite and endearing. Additionally, though some of his phrasing is extreme, he is always careful to present it in a highly polite and formal manner. For instance, the phrases ‘let me come home at Xmas so that we may meet once more again alive’ and ‘I would rather be obliged to work all my life than remain here another year’ are almost melodramatic in their extreme reactions, but modal verbs such as ‘may’ and verbs such as ‘obliged’ maintain an appropriate level of formality that balances out the intensity of emotion. This serves to influence the father more successfully, as he would realise that Henry is serious about his request to come home, whilst still respecting the need for formality when talking to his father and writing a letter. 

FEEDBACK:

AO2 Explain, comment on and analyse how writers use language and structure to achieve effects and influence readers, using relevant subject terminology to support their views 

Level 4 “Detailed, perceptive analysis” 10-12 marks

  • Shows detailed and perceptive understanding of language:  
  • Analyses the effects of the writer’s choices of language  
  • Selects a judicious range of textual detail  
  • Makes sophisticated and accurate use of subject terminology

“Detailed” – lots of precise and thorough analysis of the exact meaning of a word or phrase 

“Perceptive” – sharp, intelligent and sensitive awareness of language – you notice small little details or meanings that the average student might miss 

“Effects” – understanding the exact and precise craft of writing, including how and why a writer would choose a specific word or use a specific technique 

“Judicious” – you choose very useful and important quotations, rather than selecting at random. You understand the question fully and select evidence that properly reflects the meaning and focus of the question – sometimes grouping together several short quotations to analyse as a single effect. 

“Range” – you understand the whole extract and its context, and from the lines or section that you’ve been given you quote from various different places to give a sense of your overall understanding of the piece. “Sophisticated” you understand the precise and detailed effects of each technique, and how the writer has used it in their writing. Try to analyse the quotation and technique together for extra marks – e.g. when you notice that the writer used ‘repetition’, analyse the quotation that shows this in terms of why it’s repeating or how the repetition contributes to the overall meaning and question.


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For general help with English Language and Literature, see all our courses.

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