Question 3 Response

In ‘Heart of Darkness’ by Joseph Conrad the cultural, physical and occasionally geographical surroundings have psychological impacts on the protagonist, Marlow. Culturally, the imperialistic era of industrializing England allows Marlow to be intrigued in joining the Company in the first place. As Marlow describes his journey, there are a few significant physical surroundings that had a large impact on Marlow; most prominently were the Thames River, the Congo River and the Outer station. These three physical surroundings are interconnected through the theme of darkness, due to the negative psychological impact they have on Marlow. The darkness relates to the injustice and gross treatment of natives that imperialism in the Congo causes and the cruelty of the profit-seeking, selfish imperialists of the era.

The Thames River is the setting of the introduction to Marlow’s story of his journey through the Congo. At first, the river is praised by the third person narrator by elaborating on its greatness and how its course served the men who brought wealth to the country through imperialistic affairs. Contrasting to this view of the river is that the setting is constantly described as dark, to emphasize the darkness and therefore immorality of imperialism. Psychologically, the significance of the river Thames urges Marlow to tell his story. Because Marlow has experienced the darkness that the river is said to lead to, he feels calm being surrounded by it, and in effect, is in an undisturbed mental state. The narrator suggests his calm state by comparing Marlow to Buddha as he prepares to tell his story.

            The outer station, where Marlow first experiences the direct scenery of imperialism, is a shocking display of the darkness. The slaves, who are treated awfully, are described as boney knots and cuffed together. When Marlow is exposed to this, psychologically, he is again, made uneasy by the methods of imperialism. Marlow recognizes the immense difference between the white men and the black men, being used as slaves. At one point, he offers a biscuit to one of the starving slaves, and a bit of white European yarn tied around his neck intrigues Marlow as he wonders if this small piece of yarn had a meaning. Contrasting to this, when Marlow is acquainted with the Company’s chief accountant, he notices that he is dressed in total white, which triggered the thought he had from the piece of yarn. This psychological confusion that Marlow feels reflects the injustice of imperialism.

As Marlow continues from the outer station, along the Congo River, it is evident that the events along the Congo River reflect Marlow’s psychological state as he wonders and worries about his future meeting with Kurtz. While he travels upstream, towards Kurtz, Marlow’s psychological state is influenced by the certain obstacles he has to overcome, with natives firing at ships as they travel along the river, and more news of Kurtz’s sickness. After this, however, Marlow’s psychological state of calmness and even enlightenment is a reflection of his experience through the darkness and his choice of avoiding Kurtz’s method of ivory collection.

The physical surroundings of Marlow’s journey through the Congo influence his psychological state, mostly in a negative way. This reflects the darkness, and therefore the immorality of the imperialist era.  In particular, are areas in which Marlow is in direct contact with the cruelty of imperialism; the outer station and the Congo River. 

Score: 6

This essay is a little repetitive at times when it talks about the ‘negative’ psychological effect on Marlow. However, different physical areas are analysed and the question is answered appropriately. A little more analysis would be needed to score higher.

I wrote this essay also under a timed situation, the process of writing started with my thesis and I was able to see connections to the Thames river, Congo river and the outer station clearly. However, once I got to analyzing them I found that there wasn’t as much to talk about than I had hoped for. 

Question 1 Response

(click here for prompt)

Through the use of a sonnet structure, Sir Phillip Sydney makes great use of it to apply tone shift. Specifically, he uses this shift to express that although desire is foolish, it is also a strong incentive for ambitions – in his case, the killing of his own desire. In the first half of the poem, he makes use of a series of metaphors to give desire a negative connotation. On top of this, he uses repetition of certain phrases and alliteration to create hyperbole around the important aspects of desire.

A series of metaphors describing desire, with support of alliteration, create a negative connotation of desire. The speakers experience with desire is portrayed as vexing, and almost like a delusion. By introducing desire as that of a mark of a blind man, he suggests that desire is a very strong emotion that has the capacity to infect a man with no sight, and therefore, does not have to be taught to one through visual experience, but is a natural curse of being. Given this, Sir Phillip Sydney goes on to describe desire as a “self-chosen snare”, using alliteration to exaggerate its effect of self-destruction. In this stanza, the speaker emphasizes that not only is desire evil, but reflects one’s own evil. This is evident through figurative language like “thou web of will” and “I have too dearly bought, With price of mangled mind”. By saying that desire is a web of will, Sir Phillip Sydney expresses that desire is a cause of one’s own will and therefore is self-inflicted. The speaker claims that he bought desire at the price of his mangled mind; further suggesting desire’s self-inflicting nature.

The tone shift is used to add complexity to the speaker’s attitude toward desire. Specifically, the speaker identifies his personal relationship with desire instead of desire itself as a broad and abstract subject. To him, desire is something within him that “hast [his] ruin sought” and has maddened him to aspire to pointless goals. The speaker uses repetition of ‘In vain’ to emphasize that his relationship with desire is pointless to him and is never the source of any real outcome. This suggests that the speaker’s aspirations and dreams never come true. The hopelessness the speaker feels towards desire is highlighted when he claims that his ultimate reward would be not to desire, but to destroy it.

Through the use of a clear tone shift, the speaker’s complex attitude can be expressed in a structural way, which reveals that the speaker does not simply dislike desire, but that his relationship with desire is quite a complicated one. In the first stanza, before the tone shift, desire is introduced and the speaker’s opinion of the abstract idea is presented. Through the use of detailed figurative language, desire is given a negative connotation and the destruction it causes is presented as self-inflicted. In other words, this opinion towards desire is one that believes it is a self-inflicted kind of evil, but also a very strong power that drives ambition, regardless of whether the ambition is a morally good or bad one.

Score: 6/7
The essay does talk about poetic devices and how they express the speakers complex attitude but I’m not sure if those poetic devices were the most correct ones to discuss. Also, the thesis isn’t too strong because it doesn’t link completely with the conclusion. I should probably have had a clearer standpoint on the complexity of his attitude by stating how it was complex in the thesis, and used topic sentences throughout. This would make the arguments more convincing and clearer, enabling a higher score.

I did this essay as a timed piece, as it would be in the exam. Once I read through the sonnet it took a while to figure out exactly what the speaker’s standpoint was on desire, because it is complex. However, I think that by mentioning that he did not simply hate the desire but that he described it as something vexing and a self-inflicted problem. The fact that he wants to destroy desire is, I think, another piece to add to the complexity of his attitude.

Question 2 Reponse

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Catherine Morland is described through the use of imagery and irony as a daring and carefree spirit who simply does the things she wants to do, regardless of what society or her family holds importance to.  The author’s fond tone characterizes Catherine as a likeable character which aids in expressing her heroine qualities.

The irony of Catherine Morland’s heroism is due to her supposed plainness, suggested by her family’s ordinary reputation, her dull physical appearance and her unremarkable academic achievements. However, her daring attitude and carefree actions prove that she is, in fact, a heroine. Firstly, Catherine Morland’s appearance, described through rich imagery as a ‘thin awkward figure, a sallow skin without colour, dark lank hair’ sets the scene for the irony of her being a heroine. Although her physical appearance may not resemble a heroine, it is said that ‘heroism seemed her mind.’ This is due to her daring actions and her differences to most girls. As a character that was ‘fond of all boys’ play’, she was already rebelling against the social norms of a girl her age. Not only that, but she seeked ‘for the pleasure of mischief’ and always preferred to pick the flowers that ‘she was forbidden to take’. The other aspect of the irony in her heroism is that her supposed stupidity or low academic achievement enhances her heroine-like character. Due to her disinterest in academics and music, she ‘shirked her lessons whenever she could’ and ‘the day which dismissed the music master was one of the happiest of Catherine’s life.’

The tone of the author is a fond one, where Catherine’s mischief and rebellious activity is described as loveable qualities rather than negative. A highlight of the author’s tone is evident when she makes a remark about Catherine, noted as:  ‘what strange unaccountable character!’ The tone of this line is laid back and humorous, suggesting the Catherine is a likeable character. Again, the author uses figurative language to describe Catherine’s rebellious activity as ‘symptoms of profligacy’; meaning that her extravagance was what made her a heroine, despite her lack of academic skill. The fondness in the authors tone is also highlighted in the end of the text, where Catherine is said to have ‘loved nothing so well in the world as rolling down the green slope at the back of the house’. Because this visual imagery describes a young girl rolling down a grassy hill so successfully, the tone of the author manages to capture the young-hearted, carefree character of Catherine.

This passage highlights the not so obvious features of a heroine, aided by the characterization of Catherine Morland. The simplicity of her rebellious activity such as skipping classes and disinterest in girly pursuits is the essence of her heroism.

Score: 5

The essay focuses too much on why Catherine is a heroine and not on her actual characteristics. The literary devices used, irony and tone, are not very accurate because looking back.. I don’t think irony was used at all. I should have focused more on Catherine’s characteristics to score higher. I think that I was trying too hard to fit literary devices to her characteristics, and then started to go off track.
I also wrote this essay under a timed situation which explains the short conclusion which does not effectively restate a thesis. The main mistake that I made was choosing to write about irony. For future Question 2’s I will make sure that I write about what I know is definitely true – in this case aspects of Catherine’s personality, rather than desperately trying to fit literary devices to her Characterisation.

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Multiple Choice Practice 1 (refer to page 14-15 of the PDF)

Score: 9/10
5. Which of the following words is grammatically and thematically parallel to “tone” (line 21)?

question 5

My answer: (c) “stage declamation” (line 21)
Correct answer: (a) “solemnity (line 21)

Highlighted text

I went for the obvious choice of ‘stage declamation’ because that is directly what the tone is referring to, but it is not parallel to tone. However, when I read it again, I see that the “solemnity” OF the pulpit is parallel to the “tone” OF stage-declamation.

This mistake was probably due to a lack of time and I could solve the issue by maybe reading it once more slowly, to recognize how its parallel.


Multiple Choice Practice 2 (refer to page 17-18 of the PDF)

Score: 10/12

12. The the speaker “sympathized with” the drunk’s “obsession” (lines 16-17) is ironic chiefly because the drunk:

question 6

My answer: (a) agitated the speaker purposely and distracted him from his writing
Correct answer: (e) was a major source of the noise from which the speaker wished to escape

I thought that the drunkard agitated the speaker purposely because it says in lines 9-10 “that he seemed to direct his command at me.”
The correct answer, (e), is a more generic answer which may be more correct than the answer I chose due to the fact that evidence that the drunkard purposely agitated him is not so thorough.

20. In the sentence beginning “There were times” (lines 58-63), the speaker employs all of the following EXCEPT:


My answer: (c) simile
Correct answer: (d) understatement


This must have been a very careless mistake, because there are many similes n this piece of text- such as ‘buzzed like a saw, wheezed like the asthma of Hercules’ etc.

(d) understatement is clearly not used in this piece of text, if I had focused more while reading this would not have been a problem.


Multiple Choice Practice 3 (refer to page 21-22 of the PDF)

My score: 8/11

26. Lines 14-17 contain which of the following?

image_3 (2)


My answer: (a) Elaborate metaphor
Correct answer (b) parallel syntax

image_2 (2)


I thought that it contained an elaborate metaphor because it uses “her” to refer to China however, this is not a comparison. This is personification if anything.

I wasn’t too sure what the other options really meant, so lets do some research!

Parallel Syntax = repetition of similar sentence structures
A single periodic sentence = A sentence in which the main clause or its predicate is withheld until the end; for example, Despite heavy winds and nearly impenetrable ground fog, the plane landed safely.
A compound subject = In grammar, a compound subject is a type of subject where two or more individual noun phrases are coordinated to form a single, larger noun phrase.
Subordinate clauses = A clause, typically introduced by a conjunction, that forms part of and is dependent on a main clause (e.g., “when it rang” in

Now, it is clear that the most obvious and correct thing that this piece of text contains is parallel syntax, because it uses repetition of ‘her’ and talks all about China.

31. Which of the following best describes the first sentence of paragraph 4 (lines 34-35)?

image_4 (2)


My answer: (e) A conclusion rebutted by information in paragraph 4
Correct answer: (a) The author’s interpretation of China’s situation in the late eighteenth century
I thought that the information in paragraph 4 rebutted the fact that there was a threat from the West because it talks about how China still had authority over them and that they left ’empty handed’. However, I guess the answer I chose is not the most correct because the sentence is not really a conclusion.

33.The tone of the passage is best described as
image_5 (2)

My answer: (b) reverent and respectful
Correct answer: (d) serious but faintly condescending

I was stuck between these two when deciding the answer. I saw that the tone was faintly condescending because of the first sentence in paragraph 4  “A past-oriented society, safe only in seclusion, sensed a threat from the importunate West”, however, I decided on reverent and respectful because I thought most of the information did not seem to have a bias for China or Europe, instead, it seemed just to describe the history of both Continents. However, if I think more about the tone of the speaker towards the subject, it isn’t  obviously respectful in the way that the speaker talks about the subject with up most respect/admiration for China or Europe. It is more of a serious tone due to its straightforward information, and the condescending tone comes from the use of ‘her’ as China and the way it seems to glorify China yet not truly believe in its greatness. This is, however, very faint, which matches the answer of (d) serious but faintly condescending.



The novel, Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse centralizes on Siddhartha’s journey to enlightenment. To reach the state of nirvana, he abandons the comfort of his wealthy home in order to become a Samana (a wandering monk in certain ascetic traditions of ancient India). During his stage as a Samana, he practices meditation and fasting to feel empty of needs or desires. However, soon after, he lives a section of his life as a merchant in a town he stumbles upon. Although this might seem a backwards step since his life as a Samana, he claims that its necessary to go through the journey himself and not learn the ways of Nirvana from ‘The Illustrious One’, a famous Buddha and teacher in the novel. 

Provided this context, my artwork represents Siddhartha when he’s transforming from a merchant into a truly enlightened soul. The woman represents his fading memories of Kamala and the fire his ridding of desire in order to no longer feel suffering and to feel only peace.