AO1 poetry Mr Bleaney

Assessment Objective One
Mr. Bleaney
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 overview of Assessment Objective One
 i) Knowledge and understanding
- from level one to level two understanding
- activity one
 ii) Writing a coherent argument
- guide to successful introductions
- example introduction
- example conclusion
- activity two
 iii) Improving written style
- activity three
 iv) Using critical terminology
- activity four
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Assessment Objective One
AO1 tests your ability to show how much you have understood the
texts you have been studying. It gives marks to well informed
responses that use appropriate terminology and are coherent and
accurately written.
What a B grade looks like for AO1:
i. knowledge and understanding: show a secure understanding
of the main ideas, attitudes and themes in the text
ii. coherent response: essays are well structured with clear
points made in each paragraph that develop an argument
iii. accurate written style: writing is clear and controlled with
mostly accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar
iv. critical terminology: critical and literary terminology is used
effectively to help make valid points about aspects of texts
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i. knowledge and understanding
B grade students write confidently about ideas, attitudes and
themes and less about aspects of character and plot.
To help you understand this distinction it might be worth thinking of
this in terms of level 1 and level 2 understanding:
Level 1 understanding - focuses on characters and plot and does
not really develop ideas about the writer’s thoughts and feelings.
e.g. In the poem a landlady shows the narrator around the bedsit. He
notices things about the room’s previous occupant, Mr Bleaney.
Level 2 understanding – explores in much greater depth the
significance of what happens and what characters think and feel. It
also shows sound awareness of the writer’s thoughts and feelings.
e.g. The narrator notices ‘flowered curtains, thin and frayed’ which
introduce Larkin’s thoughts about decay and the fragility of life.
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activity one
Activity: turn the following level one sentences about the poem ‘Mr
Bleaney’ into level two sentences.
1. The second and third stanzas continue to list details of the room,
such as the ‘Bed, upright chair, sixty-watt bulb, no hook’.
2. There is an interesting pun in the first stanza, when he refers to
the house he is looking around as the ‘Bodies.’
3. The poem recreates some of the dialogue between the persona
and the landlady, as he was shown around the house.
4. The persona thinks that he understands what kind of man Mr.
Bleaney was and that he ‘knows his habits.’
5. The poem becomes increasingly poetic towards the close with the
poet wondering what Mr. Bleaney really thought about his ‘home.’
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ii. coherent argument
All your essays should contain a clear argument that answers
the question in a logical manner.
Features of a well structured B grade argument:
 plan the main ideas to provide your essay with direction
 short, punchy introduction that gives your reader a sense of the
direction of your argument (see later for guidance)
 clear focus on the question in each paragraph, using ideas in
your plan and adding to them with lots of detail and analysis
 confident conclusion that makes a decisive response to the
question based upon the points made (see later for guidance)
 clear paragraph structure e.g.*
a) topic sentence/s – clear point responding to question (A01)
b) examples from the text and analysis of methods used (A02)
c) alternative reading or critical comment (A03)
d) exploration of relevant contextual details (A04)
* Obviously, this structure can be adapted to suit your unit focus
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A successful introduction makes the scope of your argument
clear to the reader and helps give structure to your work.
Examination essays
Coursework essays
1-2 sentences that engage with
the question and indicate the
4-5 sentences that give a clear
sense of the overall argument
Avoid repeating question or
making generic statements (easy
to do under pressure!)
Avoid repeating the question or
making generic statements
Show confidence and
Show confidence and an
understanding of the question set understanding of the question set
and any key terms used
Avoid unpacking unnecessary or
irrelevant details e.g. context
Avoid unpacking unnecessary or
irrelevant details e.g. biography
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example introduction
Explore the presentation of Mr Bleaney in Larkin’s poem.
opening in
one short
Already demonstrating
an understanding of
Larkin’s methods (A02)
Mr Bleaney is presented through the eyes of a
narrator who takes up the rent on his old room.
This new lodger comes to realise that the dull,
monotonous and sad life of Mr Bleaney is a
reflection of his own existence.
of ideas A01
tone (AO1)
Intro gives structure to
essay as paragraphs
explore how this life is
presented (AO1)
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example conclusion
Explore the presentation of Mr Bleaney in Larkin’s poem.
Word or
phrase to
help signal
close (AO1)
tone (AO1)
Able to draw back from
analysis to make a
bigger comment about
authorial intention (A01)
Ultimately, through the narrative voice and his
common place dialogue with the landlady, the
reader is able to reach a powerful understanding
of the way Larkin believes ‘how we lives
Sometimes the
measures our own nature.’
Conclusion gives a clear
sense that the question,
the poem and the
methods used have all
been understood (AO1)
words of the
writers say
more than you
can A01
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activity two
Activity: complete a short introduction and conclusion to the
following essay question:
How does Larkin convey ideas about isolation in ‘Mr Bleaney’?
 Indicate scope of argument
 Short and punchy
 Engage with question focus
 Do more than sum up points
 Show understanding of terms
 Try to offer definitive response
 Short and punchy
 Show confidence
 Do not repeat the questions
 Final flourish e.g. quotation
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iii. accurate writing style
To gain a B grade for this assessment objective your writing
needs to be technically accurate with a minimum of errors
Top errors to avoid:
1. Use of writer’s first names – always refer to surnames
2. Fragments (incomplete sentences) or confusing syntax – write
short, clear sentences with a subject + verb
3. Comma splicing – joining two sentences with a comma
4. Speech marks instead of single inverted commas when quoting
5. GCSE phrasing e.g. Duffy presents; this suggests; overuse of PEE
6. Over use of ‘as’ to link parts of a sentence together
7. incorrect punctuation of ‘however’ – in most cases = new sentence
+ However + comma e.g. …However, there are other ways
8. Empty of reductive vocabulary choices e.g. positive and negative
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activity three
Activity: identify and amend the common errors in this paragraph.
At the start of stanza six the tone gets less positive. This is shown
through the word ‘but’. Which is a change in tone. Philip’s speaker
wonders if Mr. Bleaney “lay on the fusty bed” and thought about
whether the room made him who he is, as he talks about how he
might have ‘grinned ‘ and ‘shivered’ without ‘shaking off the dread’.
These negative words suggest that he has started to understand
something about the meaning of the room he has rented, how he is
like Mr. Bleaney himself. The “hired box” refers to the room where
Bleaney lived, however it might also suggest a coffin that he was
carried out in when he died. The narrative voice in this last stanza
realised that he has become as lonely as Mr. Bleaney before him.
‘how we live measures our own nature.’
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iv. critical voice
Whilst literary terms can help your analysis, using critical
vocabulary and having a critical voice is also important.
A critical voice should include the following:
1. Confident voice
2. Words show
understanding of
3. Choice of word
shows awareness
of poet’s craft
In the second stanza Larkin describes the circumstances
of Mr. Bleaney’s pitiful life. The only sight from his window
was ‘a strip of building land’, which he also stresses was
‘Tussocky’ and ‘littered’. This soulless view helps to draw
attention to the loneliness of his existence. Larkin is trying
to highlight the way that our physical environment helps to
shape who we are as human beings.
4. Authoritative
5. Convincing
vocabulary choices
6. Words that
reflect an opinion
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activity four
Activity: identify the features of a critical voice in this paragraph
There is a change of tone at the beginning of sixth stanza, with the
conjunction ‘But’ and the enjambed lines signalling a more poetic mood. The
isolated figure reflects upon his surroundings and wonders whether, like him,
Mr. Bleaney ‘lay on the fusty bed’ and tried to shake of the ‘dread’ that the
room was his home. Larkin’s use of the verbs ‘grinned’ and ‘shivered’ convey
the persona’ underlying fear as he confronts the loneliness of his existence,
and the possibility that he is the same person as Mr. Bleaney. The reference
to the ‘hired box’ is thus a pun, representing the room that contained Bleaney
whilst he was alive, but also the coffin that held his body when he died.
Although he breaks off before reaching a definite conclusion, it seems clear
that the speaker understands he will share the same fate as Bleaney and
that ‘how we live measures our own nature.’
1. Confident voice
2. Words show that understanding of character or theme
3. Choice of words shows awareness of poet’s craft
4. Authoritative judgment on texts
5. Convincing vocabulary choices
6. Words that reflect an opinion
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