The smart way to improve grades

Comprehensive & curriculum aligned

Affordable pricing from £10/month

Evaluate the Effectiveness of Presentation of Themes in 'Before You Were Mine'

In this worksheet, students can practise their evaluation of key themes presented in 'Before You Were Mine'. This activity is manually marked, so will require some parental/teacher participation, the mark schemes are provided.

'Evaluate the Effectiveness of Presentation of Themes in 'Before You Were Mine'' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

GCSE Subjects:   English Literature

GCSE Boards:   AQA

Curriculum topic:   Poetry

Curriculum subtopic:   Love and Relationships: 'Before You Were Mine'

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Want to revise your theme evaluation skills in 'Before You Were Mine'?

 

(Hint, yes you do! Double hint, you've come to the right place to do this!)

 

 

Thought bubble

 

In this activity, you'll be able to practise your evaluating skills concerning key themes in 'Before You Were Mine'. This activity should allow you to develop your understanding of how the writer builds key themes and presents them effectively. Do make sure to answer each question as concisely as you can, as your parent or teacher will be doing the marking on all your answers.

 

 

An evaluation template:

 

Understanding the poet's intention: In 'Before You Were Mine' Duffy presents the theme of motherhood by showcasing Duffy's relationship with her mother when she was a child.

 

Example: The quote "you'd teach me the steps on the way home from Mass" illustrates this.

 

Effect: This quote shows that Duffy's relationship with her mother is a close one. It emphasises the happy childhood that Duffy has. We can infer that Duffy enjoyed her time with her mother, because she remembers the details of the moment, when they were returning from 'Mass' dancing the cha cha.

 

Linking the theme to the poem as a whole: The fact that they are coming home from 'Mass' highlights the idea of religion and conventionality. This contrasts the rest of the poem, which shows the mother used to be more unconventional before she had Duffy. In this way, Duffy presents motherhood as something conventional and limiting.

 

 

Don't worry about making your evaluations complex and don't get too intimidated by the example above. Choose your own answer, but work towards the sophistication of the example presented here. 

 

 

Hopefully, this introduction makes evaluating themes easier to understand. If it's still tricky, don't worry, because the activity is filled with helpful hints and explanations that you can jot down as you go through it. 

 

 

Remember, take your time, it's not a race.

"And whose small bites on your neck, sweetheart?"

 

Evaluate the theme of sexuality:

- ​In this quote

- In the poem as a whole. 

 

There are three marks. Write more than three sentences in your answer.

 

Hint: think about these in your answer:

 

What can be inferred from this quote by the language used?

What structural device is used and what does it imply?

The attitudes/tone expressed in the quote

The attitudes/tone expressed in the poem

 

"The decade ahead of my loud, possessive yell was the best one, eh?"

 

Evaluate the theme of possessiveness:

 

- ​In this quote

- In the poem as a whole. 

 

There are three marks. Write more than three sentences in your answer.

 

Hint: think about these in your answer:

 

- What language is used and what does it imply?

- What structural device is used and what does it imply?

- The attitudes/tone expressed in the quote

- The attitudes/tone expressed in the poem

"I'm ten years away from the corner you laugh on".

 

Evaluate the theme of the past:

- ​In this quote

- In the poem as a whole. 

 

There are three marks. Write more than three sentences in your answer.

 

Hint: think about these in your answer:

- What perspective is Duffy writing from?

- What's actually going on in the quote - what's happening? What does it imply?

- The attitudes/tone expressed in the quote

- The attitudes/tone expressed in the poem

"Where you sparkle and waltz and laugh before you were mine".

 

 

What themes does this quote present?

 

You can get two marks for picking two themes.

"Where you sparkle and waltz and laugh..."

 

Evaluate the theme of glamour:

- ​In this quote

- In the poem as a whole. 

 

There are two marks. Write more than two sentences in your answer.

 

In your answer think about;

- What language is being used, and its effect

- What devices (structural) are being used and their effect

- The attitudes/tone are expressed in the quote

'Your polka-dot dress blows around your legs. Marilyn...'

 

Evaluate the theme of femininity:

- ​In this quote

- In the poem as a whole. 

 

There are three marks. Write more than three sentences in your answer.

 

Hint: think about these in your answer:

 

What language is used and what it implies (think about what the mother's fashion sense implies in this quote and the rest of the poem)

- What image is being presented in this quote and what it implies

- The attitudes/tone expressed in the quote

- The attitudes/tone expressed in the poem 

"...stamping stars from the wrong pavement".

 

Evaluate the theme of guilt in this quote.

There are two marks. Write more than two sentences in your answer.

 

In your answer, think about

- What language is used and what it implies 

- What image is being presented in this quote and what it implies

- The attitudes/tone expressed in the quote

"Your Ma stands at the close... you reckon its worth it".

What one theme is expressed in this quote? Think back to the themes we've discussed before!

 

You get one mark.

Pick a quote from stanza one which presents the theme of possessiveness.

 

How does this specific quote present this theme?

 

You get two marks:

- one for the correct quote

- one for the evaluation

Pick a quote from stanza three which presents the theme of childhood.

 

 

How does this quote present the theme?

 

You get two marks:

- one for the correct quote

- one for the evaluation

  • Question 1

"And whose small bites on your neck, sweetheart?"

 

Evaluate the theme of sexuality:

- ​In this quote

- In the poem as a whole. 

 

There are three marks. Write more than three sentences in your answer.

 

Hint: think about these in your answer:

 

What can be inferred from this quote by the language used?

What structural device is used and what does it imply?

The attitudes/tone expressed in the quote

The attitudes/tone expressed in the poem

 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Every time you write an evaluation, try and make sure that you assess exactly what the writer is trying to convey and demonstrate how this links to the poem as a whole. In this case, Duffy is conveying that her mother's sexual nature is a thing of the past. There is a change being shown, and this change is due to the mother having Duffy.
  • Question 2

"The decade ahead of my loud, possessive yell was the best one, eh?"

 

Evaluate the theme of possessiveness:

 

- ​In this quote

- In the poem as a whole. 

 

There are three marks. Write more than three sentences in your answer.

 

Hint: think about these in your answer:

 

- What language is used and what does it imply?

- What structural device is used and what does it imply?

- The attitudes/tone expressed in the quote

- The attitudes/tone expressed in the poem

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Are you getting the hang of it? In this quote, Duffy is calling herself "loud and possessive", which suggests that Duffy feels some guilt over her possessiveness as a child. Linking this to the repetition of "before you were mine" (also the title of the poem), Duffy seems to exhibit this possessiveness through the repetition of the possessive pronoun "mine". The themes of guilt and possessiveness are linked in the poem.
  • Question 3

"I'm ten years away from the corner you laugh on".

 

Evaluate the theme of the past:

- ​In this quote

- In the poem as a whole. 

 

There are three marks. Write more than three sentences in your answer.

 

Hint: think about these in your answer:

- What perspective is Duffy writing from?

- What's actually going on in the quote - what's happening? What does it imply?

- The attitudes/tone expressed in the quote

- The attitudes/tone expressed in the poem

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Try and think about the undertones of this quote - what does this quote imply about Duffy's relationship with her mother? It's an interesting one when we consider that Duffy is writing about the past from a present day position. She's inserting herself into her mother's past! But do you think she is doing this in a threatening way? Maybe indicating her possessiveness, even as she's talking about a past that she was not a part of?
  • Question 4

"Where you sparkle and waltz and laugh before you were mine".

 

 

What themes does this quote present?

 

You can get two marks for picking two themes.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
It's always a good idea to think about themes presented in quotes, so that you can link them to other quotes from the poem which display similar/opposing themes.
  • Question 5

"Where you sparkle and waltz and laugh..."

 

Evaluate the theme of glamour:

- ​In this quote

- In the poem as a whole. 

 

There are two marks. Write more than two sentences in your answer.

 

In your answer think about;

- What language is being used, and its effect

- What devices (structural) are being used and their effect

- The attitudes/tone are expressed in the quote

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
This quote really indicates glamour, through the language choices that Duffy makes. The adjectives imply that Duffy admires her mother's past personality - there's a wistfulness in the way that they are listed.
  • Question 6

'Your polka-dot dress blows around your legs. Marilyn...'

 

Evaluate the theme of femininity:

- ​In this quote

- In the poem as a whole. 

 

There are three marks. Write more than three sentences in your answer.

 

Hint: think about these in your answer:

 

What language is used and what it implies (think about what the mother's fashion sense implies in this quote and the rest of the poem)

- What image is being presented in this quote and what it implies

- The attitudes/tone expressed in the quote

- The attitudes/tone expressed in the poem 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Did you recognise the reference to Marilyn Monroe's dress blowing in a gust of wind in the movie 'The Seven Year Itch'? It's an oldie, but classic. Duffy links her mother's fashion sense to glamour icon Marilyn (through an abrupt caesura, which in its own way gives the quote a sense of suddenness/abruptness that neatly links to the switch between the mother as a young, carefree girl to burdened mother). Like the question indicates, take note of how the mother's fashion sense and femininity are used throughout the poem. Remember the "red high-heels" and how they become "relics"? What is Duffy trying to say about the mother's symbolic femininity before and after she had her?
  • Question 7

"...stamping stars from the wrong pavement".

 

Evaluate the theme of guilt in this quote.

There are two marks. Write more than two sentences in your answer.

 

In your answer, think about

- What language is used and what it implies 

- What image is being presented in this quote and what it implies

- The attitudes/tone expressed in the quote

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Every time you write an evaluation, try and make sure that you assess exactly what the writer is trying to convey and how this links to the poem as a whole. The word "wrong" is important, especially as the entire poem is from Duffy's point of view. Therefore, when we consider the negative implications of the word "wrong", it suggests that Duffy feels as if her mother doesn't belong with her, walking home from Mass. She belongs elsewhere. This is also conveyed in Duffy's use of "stamping stars" - the mum still has that spark, even as she is walking her child home from Mass. She's still conveyed as someone with potential who deserved better.
  • Question 8

"Your Ma stands at the close... you reckon its worth it".

What one theme is expressed in this quote? Think back to the themes we've discussed before!

 

You get one mark.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
What did you go with? This quote expresses the theme of rebelliousness, sexuality, possessiveness (from 'Ma') and the past (which is kind of obvious, but still allowed as an answer).
  • Question 9

Pick a quote from stanza one which presents the theme of possessiveness.

 

How does this specific quote present this theme?

 

You get two marks:

- one for the correct quote

- one for the evaluation

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Possessiveness is not obvious in the first stanza, which makes this question tricky. It requires a bit of inference. The fact that Duffy writes that she is "ten years away", inserting herself into her mother's memories, is a sign of possessiveness. While this is a trickier point that requires some explaining (sorry about that!), it is a good one to remember and jot down as you revise, because it's sophisticated and will get you some good marks (definitely a reason to take note!)
  • Question 10

Pick a quote from stanza three which presents the theme of childhood.

 

 

How does this quote present the theme?

 

You get two marks:

- one for the correct quote

- one for the evaluation

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
In stanza three, Duffy presents her childhood as something which directly impacts her mother's freedom. The adjectives "loud and possessive" are used, suggesting that Duffy as a child was clingy, and the reason why her mother couldn't focus on herself. Similarly, the image of Duffy's childlike hands in her mother's red heels portrays, quite symbolically, a replacement. It's not Duffy's mum who wears the heels anymore, it is Duffy, the child, who puts her hands in her mum's glamorous shoes and prevents her from wearing them.
Try it ---- OR ----

Sign up for a £1 trial so you can track and measure your child's progress on this activity.

What is EdPlace?

We're your National Curriculum aligned online education content provider helping each child succeed in English, maths and science from year 1 to GCSE. With an EdPlace account you’ll be able to track and measure progress, helping each child achieve their best. We build confidence and attainment by personalising each child’s learning at a level that suits them.

Get started
laptop

Start your £1 trial today.
Subscribe from £10/month.