Nov 12, 2012 - Communication    2 Comments

GCSE Practice Work: Shakespeare & Sylvia Plath

How do Shakespeare and Plath show the strength of the feeling of women?

(INTRO):In both ‘The taming of the Shrew’ and Poems by Sylvia Plath, we see that the feelings of women are very strong, however, we can see that Shakespeare cannot accurately portray the feelings and thoughts of women as much as Sylvia Plath as she is actually a woman.

Sylvia Plath uses strong violent imagery to portray feelings, while Shakespeare uses a strong minded yet somewhat quiet character, another comparison between the two authors is that while they both use certain language devices, for example, when important characters in Shakespeare’s ‘Taming of the Shrew’ speak, they use iambic pentameter, however in Sylvia Plath’s play ‘Daddy’, she uses the ‘oo’ sound a lot, E.G: two, you, who, while this ‘sound’ is quite noticeable, the Iambic pentameter is hard to notice unless you pay attention to the lines.

Some Dramatic devices are also noticeable in Both Authors pieces, for example, in Sylvia Plath’s ‘Daddy’, She uses very violent and offensive imagery, referring to her father as a ‘Nazi’ and herself as a ‘Jew’, and using very ‘Nazi’ era references, however, in Shakespeare’s ‘Taming of the Shrew’, Katherina uses the power of her mind to ‘backchat’ to Petruchio, her sister and her father a number of times.

Sylvia Plath’s Poems and Shakespeare’s ‘Taming of the shrew’ are laid out in completely different ways, because the ‘Taming of the shrew’ was a Play and not a poem, the poems were laid out in short paragraphs, sometimes with various rhymes and other poetic devices, whereas, the ‘Taming of the Shrew’ simply used lines from the characters, there was no particular layout in the way that they spoke.



  • Jack – I’m sorry your work has been blocked at school. I can’t figure out why, but if you do find a word (I’m sure Nazi is fine) that you think might be triggering the block – please do go ahead and remove it. All the other students’ blogs are re-enabled now, so yours is the last one!

    Comments to follow.

  • The observations you make above are interesting and original.

    I would encourage you not to feel you have to constantly compare Sylvia Plath’s poetry to Shakespeare’s play as it forces you to make comparisons that are sometimes a bit of a stretch and sometimes irrelevant to the question.

    In terms of the assessment, you don’t need to compare the play and the poems, you just need to discuss the same aspects of both – so if you want to explore them separately, this is absolutely fine. If you see some powerful or fascinating differences or parallels – then by all means mention them, as this still will add to your answer

    All the observations you have included above are valid and they all could be used to build a response to the question about women’s feelings. I particularly encourage you to refer to the Taming of the Shrew as a play and make reference to the dramatic techniques used. This is essential because part of the assessment criteria asks you to understand the text form and context.

    To get the best possible grade from this assessment, you must:

    1) make sure you’re developing an argument that is coherent. The question asks about the presentation of women’s emotions and Raphael was completely on it when he referred to women’s voices – being silenced or otherwise

    2) demonstrating confident understanding of the texts and their context. Remember the Taming of the Shrew is a comedy – and as such many of the extremes were designed for comic effect. This does not undermine that Katharina is not just a figure of fun, but also very witty herself. Don’t forget that in Shakespeare’s time, not only was this female character written by a male author but she would have also been performed by a man. This would have intensified the comic effect. You may also want to discuss the many-layers of deception in the play, and consider how this relates to women
    In respect of Sylvia Plath’s poetry, you’re dealing with writing by a woman about matters that are very close and personal. This is then an authentic female voice. The issues are grave and the tone a lot more serious and violent.

    3) You need to devise a clear structure for your answer. Will you look at different elements of the stylistics of the texts, will you compare them to each other? how will you make sure you meet all the performance criteria (check the task outline for these)

    4) If you are able to integrate your analysis of language and the techniques of play writing (dramatic irony and the like) as well as the techniques of poetry used by Plath, you are going to be able to develop the most sophisticated answer. Remember you don’t have to compare and contrast the texts, you simply have to explore both in detail, looking at similar areas and drawing attention to any interesting parallels or differences.

    5) Knowledge of Shakespeare and shakespeare’s time and Plath and Plath’s time does count, but is best communicated in relation to the texts and the points you’re making.

    I’d be keen to see you write a clear plan in bullet points so that your writing can become focused and organised and to allow you to make sure you’re able to wrestle all this complex information into one essay that makes one broad point about the presentation of women’s emotions.

Got anything to say? Go ahead and leave a comment!


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