comparative notes

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    • #602

      :is there any way i ccould get a sample of a comparative answer of witness, silas marner and sive????::[imgs]null[/imgs]

    • #13919

      is there any way i ccould get a sample of a comparative answer of witness, silas marner and sive????::[imgs]null[/imgs]

    • #13920

      Comparative Texts – Leaving Cert 2006

      The study of texts in a comparative manner is intended to encourage wider reading in different contexts and to introduce different ways of looking at texts. At both Higher and Ordinary Level, students are required to study three texts, one of which may be a film. To facilitate such analysis, a set of modes of comparison have been identified as follows:

      Higher Level

      Theme or Issue

      * Examine the main idea/ideas or central concerns in the text.

      * Compare central themes from different texts.

      Literary Genre

      Examine what type of text you are dealing with:

      * Is it a tragic play?

      * A romantic novel?

      * An autobiography?

      * A biography?

      * A travel book?

      * Be able to compare texts from a similar genre e.g. tragedies and to compare texts from different genres e.g. compare a play, a novel and a film.

      The Cultural Context

      Study the following points:

      * Social customs and traditions

      * Race/class differences

      * The value system in that society

      * The position of men and women respectively

      * Type of religion presented

      * Power structures

      * Political areas

      Ordinary level

      Social Setting

      * Where is the story set?

      * What type of society is shown in the text?

      * What are the main traditions or customs in that society?

      * What is the position of woman and man in that society?

      * Are certain values or beliefs upheld by the characters in your texts?


      * Examine the main idea/ideas or central concerns in the text.

      * Compare central themes from different texts.

      Aspects of Story: tension or climax or resolution

      * Compare the techniques that texts use to create interest and pleasure for readers

      General approach to answering questions

      * Identify clearly your three texts. You may not use any of these texts for your answer on the in-depth (single text) question.

      * Spend time working on the question. Make sure you understand every aspect of what is being asked before you start your answer.

      * Begin by working on a rough draft. Write down several points from each text related to the question. Try to back up some of these points with a quote from that particular text.

      * Write out your answer in rough draft format.

      * You can write out your answer either by dedicating a series of three different paragraphs to each text and continue this the whole way throughout, or simply write an answer on each text separately and relate to the question.

      * All the material from your texts must be tied in to your answer in a fluid and natural way. Do not divide your answer into sub headings with the title of the texts at the top. The main thing is to link or weave the texts naturally, and show how they relate to the question asked, jotting down all points of comparison or contrast between the texts.

      * Organise your points into paragraphs, and make sure that you have used quotation/reference from the texts as much as possible.

      * Put priority and order on your points and make sure that each point refers in some way to the question asked.

      * Start writing the answer and stop at the end of each paragraph to examine what relevance it has to the question asked.

      * Always to give yourself time to conclude a comparative answer. Go back to the actual question and make a statement on the question and the relation to all texts. This statement may simply draw a contrast or form a judgment about the different texts.

      The Texts

      Any three texts from the list of texts prescribed for comparative study, other than the one already chosen for study on its own, may be selected for the comparative study.

      Witness – Directed by Peter Weir

      Plot Summary

      The opening sequence of the film shows a picture of an Amish community in Pennsylvania in 1984. Rachael a young Amish woman is burying her husband. She has a son called Samuel.

      Rachel decides to leave the community with Samuel and spend some time with her sister in Baltimore. They arrive in a central train station, and they have to wait three hours in the station. Samuel wanders into the men’s toilet and witnesses a white man being murdered by two other men (one a coloured man) with a knife. The child manages to escape. A police officer called John Book takes on the case. It transpires that the man who was killed was a policeman.

      Book brings Rachael and Samuel to the police station in order to try to help with the investigation of the murder. Samuel notices a photograph of the coloured man who carried out the murder while he is wandering around the police office. This coloured man is a police officer called Mc Fee. Book immediately informs Paul Schaeffer who is chief officer about Mc Fee. Book realizes that Mc Fee must be involved in some illegal dealings involving narcotics. Schaeffer warns Book not to tell anyone and that he will take care of things. Shortly after this, Book is shot at by Mc Fee while he leaves a car park. He then realizes that Schaeffer is also involved. Book takes refuge in the Amish community and warns his friend Carter another police officer to destroy all documentation about the whole affair.

      Book has been badly injured and is nursed back to health by the members of the community and in particular Rachael. They fall in love. Book remains hidden in the community and becomes familiar with their culture, and starts to imbibe many of their customs. He leans that Carter has been killed and realizes that Schaeffer and Mc Fee must be involved.

      Book has a fight with some local boys and this incident leads Schaeffer to the community where Book is hidden. Book is in the barn when the three men arrive to kill him. He is not armed with any weapon but manages to kill one of the men and apprehend his gun. He then shoots Mc Fee. In the meantime Schaeffer takes Rachael as hostage and threatens to shoot her if Book will not surrender. Book throws down his gun as Samuel begins to ring the bell calling the whole community for help. When the community arrive Book challenges Scheffer and forces him to admit his guilt. The film concludes with Book leaving the community and also leaving Rachael, and returning to his job as policeman in Philadelphia.


      This is a drama of social realism. The story is told by means of contrast between two different worlds, the Philadelphia police force with its latent corruption, and the Amish community with its stress on peace and harmony.

      General Vision or Viewpoint

      The general vision in this film seems to assert the primacy of values such as truth, loyalty and honour. Book the Philadelphia police officer is a law-abiding man who believes in justice. When he begins to become more aware of the latent and deep-seated corruption within the police force he leans on the support of the Amish people. He begins to imbibe and appreciate their value system such as working together and community life. These values help him to expose the corruption of Schaeffer and his men at the end. Book returns to his own culture to continue exercising his job as police officer while at the same time having appreciated and learned to love the Amish culture and their ways.

      Cultural Context

      There are two contrasting cultural settings in this film- the white Philadelphia police force and the rural Amish community. The values and ideology, which underline both worlds, are in dramatic contrast. In the case of the police force in Philadelphia, murder, corruption and double-dealing are a constant feature of life, while the Amish community are dominated by peace and unity among themselves. They do not use or carry weapons and believe it is a sin to take another person’s life. In Philadelphia life is dispensable and murder and violence rampant. The position of the woman in the Amish community is restricted and the style of dress is almost puritanical. Community life and family are primary values in the Amish society.



      These two themes of loyalty and betrayal dominate every scene of the film. In the two contrasting cultures that are represented in the film Peter Weir has managed to show the power of loyalty within the Amish community in contrast to the deceit and betrayal which lies at the heart of the police force in Philadelphia. Carter the police officer and friend of Book dies out of loyalty to the truth and to his friend. Betrayal is shown to be self-defeating and self-destructive according as the story develops.

      Unity and Friendship

      It is within the confines of the strict Amish community that Book experiences and learns to value the power of unity and strong friendship. Through this strong bond of unity and friendship the Amish people manage to expose the guilt of Schaeffer at the conclusion, and he is eventually forced to surrender to justice.


      Much of the violence depicted in this film comes from the white community in Pennsylvania. Here murder and corruption is rampant. The contrast of the value system within the Amish people highlights the destructive quality of this violence and underlines how it can destroy a society. Violence and greed seem to co-exist in the rich materialistic culture of Pennsylvania, while the values of peace and respect for the person dominate the lifestyle of the Amish people.

      Silas Marner – George Eliot

      Plot Summary

      The novel opens at the conclusion of the story. Marner is a weaver who belonged to a strict Puritan community in England in the nineteenth century. He had been betrayed by his best friend William Dane and accused by the community of robbing money from an old parishioner. He leaves the village after the community decides he is guilty on the basis of drawing lots. Marner loses his faith in god and in humankind He settles on the outskirts of a village called Raveloe in the heart of England.

      Raveloe is an easy going place where people a rich abundance of food and material goods. Squire Cass lives in Raveloe and considers himself the greatest man in the village. He has two dissolute sons called Godfrey and Dunstan. Both these men have wasted their lives. Godfrey has been married secretly to a drug addict called Molly and he has a child. He has abandoned both and his brother Dunsey is bribing him for money because he knows about the marriage. Dunsey takes Godfrey’s horse and has an accident. He then steals the gold from Marner’s cottage, which he has been accumulating from his weaving jobs. Dunsey has an accident and falls into the quarry near Marner’s cottage. He dies of a broken neck.

      Meanwhile, Molly decides to pay a visit to Godfrey on New Year’s Eve and she brings her child. Molly dies on the way and falls in the snow outside Silas’ cottage. Her child crawls to the door and sits on the hearth. Silas has been having cataleptic fits for many years and while Molly’s child crawls into the cottage, Silas does not notice because he is in the middle of a fit. When he sees the child he thinks it is his gold, which has been returned. He picks up the child and then discovers the dead body of Molly. Silas goes to the Red House where the Cass family are having a big party. Godfrey is hoping to make an impression on a young lady called Nancy Lammetter. He hopes she will marry him. He has not told her about his other marriage to Molly. Silas arrives with the baby in his arms and tells them about Molly. Godfrey does not own up, and so Silas adopts the baby and calls it Eppie.Silas becomes strongly attached to Eppie and he begins to change as a result. He learns to integrate in the village and regains his faith in god and in humankind with the help of a thoughtful woman called Dolly Winthrop. When Eppie grows up into a beautiful woman she falls in love with Aaron who is Dolly’s son. Godfrey marries Nancy but they are unable to have any children. At the conclusion of the story, Dunsey’s body is found in the quarry, and Godfrey is forced to tell the truth to Nancy about his former marriage. He decides to adopt Eppie from Silas, but she refuses to go and live with him, as she considers Silas to be her real father at this stage.

      The novel concludes with the marriage of Eppie and Aaron Winthrop.


      This is a novel of social realism. The opening chapter begins at the conclusion of the events and the rest of the novel works by means of flashback. The effect of this technique is to blend past and present together, and also to contribute to the atmosphere of mystery and fairy tale.

      Cultural Context

      The particular social setting of this novel is nineteenth century England just before the Industrial revolution. We are given a brief insight into the narrow restrictive mentality in a Puritan or Calvinistic community through Lantern Yard.

      In Raveloe we see a rich agricultural community of small squires and landowners. They are a relaxed type of people and are in striking contrast to the community in Lantern Yard particularly in the area of faith. They have a simply and almost childish approach to faith and religion


      Redemption through love

      One of the main themes or issues in this novel is how a character can find redemption through human love. In the figure of Eppie, Silas finds that his faith in humankind is restored, and he loses all his miserliness, which had happened when he was isolated. He is freed from self-absorption and selfishness through the power of love and he experiences for the first time in his life full happiness and fulfillment.

      Aspects of story

      Tension: Tension occurs in this text when Dunsey’s body is found and it becomes known that he was the one to rob Marner of his gold.

      Climax: The climax of the story is revealed in the scene between Godfrey and his wife Nancy after the discovery of Dunsey’s dead body in the quarry beside Marner’s cottage. He is forced to tell her about his first marriage and how Eppie is his own child.

      Resolution: The resolution is reached in Eppie’s decision to stay with Marner and not move to live with Godfrey and Nancy. This confirms the fullness of her love for Marner, while at the same time showing Godfrey that through his deeds he has not deserved to have Eppie as his daughter.

      Sive – John B. Keane

      Plot Summary

      The story is centered on a young eighteen year old girl called Sive who is illegitimate. She lives with her uncle Mike, his wife Mena and Nanna who is Mike’s mother. A local matchmaker Thomasheen Sean Rua decides that Sive should marry an old man called Sean Dota. Sean is rich but old and haggard. Thamasheen convinces Mike and Mena to organize the marriage of Sive to Sean Dota. They will receive a sum of two hundred pounds as soon as she marries him.

      Sive however is in love with a young man by the name of Liam Scuab. Liam however is not suitable as he is related to the man who abandoned Sive’s mother when he realized that she was pregnant. Mike refuses permission for Liam to marry Sive on this account.

      Sive is distraught but is forced to do the will of her uncle and his wife. Nanna does not approve and would prefer her to marry Liam. Two local tinkers by the name of Pats and his son Carthalawn connive together and decide to help her escape from Sean Dota and marry Liam. The plot fails however as Thomasheen discovers the letter and destroys it. On the night before her marriage Sive disappears and shortly afterwards her body is discovered in a bog hole. Liam finds the body and carries it in to the house announcing to Mena and her husband that they are responsible for her death. As Liam cries over the dead body Sean Dota and Thomasheen both leave the room. The play concludes with Pats and his son singing about a maiden who was drowned as she would not be a bride.


      There are two different versions of 'Sive' -a two Act and a three Act play. The time span is roughly about three weeks in total. The dialogue in the play is filled with conflict and realism.

      Cultural Context/Social Setting

      The background of this play is Ireland in the fifties. It is a time of harsh poverty and people are measured in terms of the land and the crops they possess. There are many references to the fear of the poorhouse and the rough reality of poverty. Marriage and love are both seen in pragmatic terms in relation to the amount of possessions a person has. It is a time when matchmakers were popular and local trades flourished. The land is an important feature of the play.

      General Vision or Viewpoint

      The general vision or viewpoint of this play is somber and tragic. It seems inevitable from the outset that Sive will be forced to marry a man she does not love and who is years older than her. The overall impression of people reflected in the play is negative. Most of the main characters seem to spend their time exploiting others and simply using them to serve their own self-interest.

      Theme or Issue

      Love /Marriage

      In this play love and marriage are treated very negatively. Thomasheen who is supposed to be the local matchmaker and bring together people who love one another in marriage queries cynically to Mena ‘what business have the likes of us with love? The whole notion of love and marriage becomes synonymous with selfishness and self-interest. Mena and Thoasheen are seen as two despicable characters who have no interest in anything else but serving their own interests and pockets. Both are governed by selfishness and see Sive’s marriage to Sean Dota in terms of monetary interests and particularly monetary interest which will benefit themselves.

      Women are shown to be strong characters but they are also shown in a negative light throughout the story. Both Mena and Nanna fight and insult one another in an abusive manner and both are seen to be embittered people in different ways. Nanna despises the fact that Mena has no children, while Mena sees the presence of Nanna in the house as a continuous source of irritation. Sive on the other hand is seen as a victim of the selfishness and self-interest of the people who should be helping her in life. At the conclusion in her tragic death we see the destruction of a beautiful young woman through the greed of other people.


      The question of money dominates almost every line of this play. Set against a backdrop of rural Ireland governed by poverty, this play depicts the tragic consequences on people of the need for money. The whole notion of marriage is seen in terms of money and as the character of Mena develops we see that she despises poverty. Sean Dota and Thomasheen the matchmaker turn out to be two despicable people who use money to wield power over people.

      Aspects of Story


      Tension builds up in this play gradually. When Sive disappears on the night before her wedding the tension is at its peak.


      The climax of this play occurs when Liam discovers the dead body of Sive in the bog hole.


      The resolution of the conflict in the play occurs in the death of the main character Sive because she wished to escape from a marriage which was forced on her. It is only Liam Scuab who really grieves over her at the conclusion.

      Hero / Heroine / Villain


      The hero of this play is Liam who is faithful to Sive right to the end.


      The heroine is undoubtedly Sive who is a passive victim of the self-interest and selfishness of others.


      The villain is Thomasheen and Mena who both conspire at every turn to use their power over Sive and force her to do their will.

      Notes from

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