in AQA, English Language, Essay Technique, Writing Skills

Just in time for Halloween, here’s a spooky letter that argues persuasively in defence of keeping the festival going! I wrote this answer with the mark scheme in mind, so it ticks all the boxes that you would expect for a top-level grade – a clear, thorough argument with counter paragraphs, an evaluative conclusion, lots of rhetorical devices, a logical structure and more! The answer wasn’t written in timed conditions, but it is roughly the right length for the AQA GCSE Paper 2 Writing question – which you have around 45-55 minutes to answer.

If you have time, have a go at planning and maybe even writing your own piece first, before you look at the example. If you’re feeling unconfident, take a look at the planning notes for some ideas and inspiration!

Wilfred Owen’s Last Letter – Practise for GCSE and A-level English Literature


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AQA GCSE Language Paper 2

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THE QUESTION

A local priest in your community stated:

“Halloween is Satanic and encourages children to celebrate evil. It should be banned.”

Write a letter to your local newspaper, arguing against or in support of this viewpoint.

THE PLAN

PLAN: 

  • Figure out the type of writing: LETTER 
  • Audience: LOCAL NEWSPAPER, readers who live in your area 
  • Opinion: (when you have more than one part to the argument, you can choose which parts to agree and disagree with) 

1. Halloween is Satanic and encourages children to celebrate evil. 

2. It should be banned. 

AGAINST: Halloween should not be banned  

  • Depends on a personal choice – not everyone is religious, so some people see it as a dress up opportunity, others see it as evil 
  • Children have fun trick or treating
  • They pick their own outfit and dress up as whoever they want which builds their creativity.
  • It is a good time to spend with family. 
  • Horror and fear are natural, so we should be in tune with those 
  • Most festivals have a reason behind them 
  • Relgiously, Halloween is a Christian festival – the day after is called ‘All Saints Day’ – it symbolises the purification of evil 

FOR: Halloween should be banned  

  • Films that are sinister and scare the children
  • Brings up questions about ghosts being real or not and can traumatise people. 
  • Seems to encourage evil – villains, the devil, idealising evil things 
  • Encourages lack of control / chaos / disorder 
  • Can be mentally scarring – frightening young children 
  • Can be traumatising to people who have had genuine frightening experiences in their lives – ghosts / spirits, flashbacks of trauma or difficulty 
  • Religiously ‘evil’ should not be encouraged 

My opinion: Halloween should not be banned. 

THE ANSWER

Dear Local Newspaper, 

I am writing regarding the recent opinion you posted that ‘Halloween should be banned’. Personally, I feel that this is such a strange idea – especially coming from a Priest! Who are we to say what other people should, or should not, celebrate? Imagine if we banned Christmas, just because it offended some people. Imagine if birthday parties or weddings or funerals were suddenly no longer allowed. All of these ideas should sound absurd to you, and hopefully, by the end of this letter, you’ll realise that the notion of cancelling Halloween is equally bizarre and inappropriate. 

So firstly, let me address the idea that Halloween is evil. At first glance, I can see why some would view it this way: on Halloween, we dress in spooky clothes, watch spooky films and take part in spooky activities. It is a time where ghosts, demons, ghouls, monsters, witches, goblins, vampires, zombies and other nefarious entities seemingly walk the earth – pervading both our minds and our homes with fear and forcing us to confront things that usually we would avoid like the plague. Hate horror movies? There’s no escape from them on Halloween. Frightened by costumes and spooky decor? Too bad, they’re everywhere!  

However, just because we are exposed to evil things, doesn’t mean that we are ourselves, bad people! It’s a fact that throughout our lives we will all encounter evil or suffering in one form or another – perhaps we’ll get bullied at school, or cross paths with a manipulative and cruel work colleague. Perhaps a random event in our lives will lead us down a path of darkness and suffering. Halloween has an extremely important function, then, in our society: like horror films, it allows us to engage with the idea of ‘evil’ in a safe context, so that when we encounter it in our real lives we are more prepared. 

Sure, you could say that children need protection from danger. But most of them have protection for the other 364 days in the year, don’t they? We really must allow kids to experience a little horror every once in a while. It significantly contributes to their growth and maturity as human beings – giving them a more realistic and well-rounded perspective on the world. 

Besides, it’s so much fun to dress up and play games on Halloween! The very act of choosing the theme of your costume, planning or designing the outfit, and executing the finished piece – as well as the fun of seeing everybody’s else’s fancy dress concepts – is an excellent way of encouraging both strategic planning and creativity. 

It’s also a highly social occasion that fosters strong bonds with friends and family alike. When I was a teenager, I always used to take my little sister out trick-or-treating – these are some of my fondest memories of our time together, battling against the cold October nights with our witches’ hats and cauldrons brimming with sweets, we felt like we were in a film or a dream! These experiences are priceless. People who don’t celebrate Halloween are missing out. 

Finally – and this is probably the most compelling argument of all – Halloween actually is a Christian festival! To say that it’s un-Christian, evil or Satanic completely undermines the whole point of the event. Traditionally, Halloween was named ‘All Hallows Eve’, and it took place before the hallowed (a word meaning ‘holy’) day of All Saints Day on November 1st. It is clear that the festival comes from a Catholic, and therefore Christian, tradition: its original intention is to draw out all of the souls and evil spirits into the world on All Hallow’s Eve, in order to purify and purge them the following day. Therefore, even from a religious Christian perspective, it is inaccurate to view Halloween as Satanic. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter, and I hope you will pass on my regards to the Priest who denounced Halloween in your original article. I would very much like him to consider my thoughts, and perhaps even reply with his own responses if he feels that he has the time. Ultimately, whether a person is religious or not, I’m sure we can all unanimously agree that there are both recreational and spiritual benefits to celebrating Halloween and that if an individual doesn’t like to celebrate it then there’s nothing forcing them to do so. 

Yours sincerely, 

…..


Thanks for reading! If you’re looking for more help with your English Language, you can access our full online English courses below:

AQA GCSE Language Paper 2

AQA GCSE Language Paper 1

Basic Descriptive Writing

Basic Essay Writing

All English Courses

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