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Evaluate the Effectiveness of Presentation of Themes in 'Winter Swans'

In this worksheet, students will be tested on their evaluation of key themes in 'Winter Swans'. Students will analyse the use of language and it's impact on the theme and tone.

'Evaluate the Effectiveness of Presentation of Themes in 'Winter Swans'' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

GCSE Subjects:   English Literature

GCSE Boards:   AQA

Curriculum topic:   Poetry

Curriculum subtopic:   Love and Relationships: 'Winter Swans'

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Want to revise your theme evaluation skills in 'Winter Swans'? 

 

(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 'Winter Swans'. This activity should allow you to practise some key skills in detecting how the writer develops key themes and presents them effectively. This is a mixed activity - some of your answers will need to be manually marked!

 

 

An evaluation template:

 

Identifying the theme i.e: In 'Winter Swans', Sheers presents the theme of nature

Example i.e: The quote "the waterlogged earth gulping for breath at our feet" illustrates this.

Effect i.e: This shows that the earth is desperate for nourishment and is an example of personification. It symbolises the way nature reflects the couple's relationship - clearly, their relationship is lacking in something, just as the earth is lacking oxygen - gasping for breath as if being choked.

Linking the theme to the poem as a whole: i.e: The fact that the earth is symbolic of the couple's relationship conveys the way nature and the couple's relationship are linked. It seems that the couple's natural surroundings influence the way the couple feel about each other. If the earth is "gasping" for breath, it can be inferred that the couple's relationship lacks something vital. It is only after the couple take a step back and witness the swans, that they unify. 

 

 

Don't worry about making your evaluations super complex and don't get too intimidated by the example up there. It's more sophisticated, so that you have a super good example to look up to and work towards!

 

 

Hopefully, (fingers crossed) this makes evaluating themes easier to understand. If it's still tricky, don't worry, because the activity will be filled with helpful hints and explanations that you can jot down as you do it. 

 

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

Evaluate the theme of the weather in stanza one by filling in the blanks.

 

 

Try to find the quotes yourself. 

 

Don't worry about using quotation marks. Usually these are important of course, but on this occasion, we want to see your ability to choose the correct quotation in action. Be sure to copy the exact words you see though, or you may be marked incorrectly. 

 

You will find the answers for blanks number two and three in the list below (choose the two correct words):

 

Metaphor

Personification 

Reverse personification

Dull

Improved

Affected

Simile

Now evaluate the theme of peace in the poem by filling out the blank spaces below.

 

Pick the quotes in blank one and two yourself. 

 

For blank three and four, pick two out of the list of options below:

 

Metaphor
Personification 
Reverse personification
Dull
Effect
Affected
Simile

 

Which two themes in the poem are introduced after the couple have witnessed the swans tipping?

Distance

Peacefulness

Unity

Reverse personification

Name two themes/motifs in the poem present before the couple witness the swans.

 

Choose from the options below and write one word in each box below:

 

Unity

Distance

Hate

Love

Peacefulness

Fulfilment

Desperation

Personification

Nature

 

You must write the words in the same order as they appear in the list or you may be marked incorrectly. 

Distance

Peacefulness

Unity

Reverse personification

How might the third line of the fourth stanza present stability? Pick one of the options from below:

 

1. Through the verb "righting", which suggests that the boats are right, despite the bad weather

2. Through the simile of "rough weather", which suggests that rough times may happen.

3. The swans represent, through the device of a simile, the idea of the couple "righting" themselves, even when they're going through "rough" times. 

4. Through the simile of "rough weather" and the adjective "rough" which suggests that, although rough times happen, love means being stable.

1

2

3

4

"'They mate for life" you said...'"

 

 

Tick two ways that this quote suggests that the swans have an influence over unifying the couple in the poem. 

The fact that they mate for life shows how they have unified the couple

The words "for life" suggest that the commitment and unity that the swans show influence the couple

The fact that this is direct speech shows the influence

The fact that this is direct speech, which breaks the silence, suggests that the topic of the swans has reconciled the couple

"As we skirted the lake"

 

 

 

Evaluate the theme of distance in the quote above. 

 

Think about:

 

The language used (world classification)

What this language suggests about the couple early on in the poem 

 

There are two marks for two sentences.

Pick one theme which remains constant/unchanging throughout the poem:

 

Nature

Peace

Distance

 

Explain why you think this theme remains constant? What effect does this theme have on the couple’s relationship?

 

Last question! You're almost done, great focus.

 

Pick one theme which does change in the poem:

 

Nature

Love

Distance

 

First, identify the correct theme. Second, give an example with two quotes throughout the poem which showcase how this theme has changed.

 

You get one mark for identifying the correct theme and two marks for identifying the two quotes.

Evaluate the theme of unity in the last two lines of the sixth stanza:

 

​In this particular 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 device is used in the quote?

The attitudes/tone expressed in the quote

The attitudes/tone expressed in the poem

 

  • Question 1

Evaluate the theme of the weather in stanza one by filling in the blanks.

 

 

Try to find the quotes yourself. 

 

Don't worry about using quotation marks. Usually these are important of course, but on this occasion, we want to see your ability to choose the correct quotation in action. Be sure to copy the exact words you see though, or you may be marked incorrectly. 

 

You will find the answers for blanks number two and three in the list below (choose the two correct words):

 

Metaphor

Personification 

Reverse personification

Dull

Improved

Affected

Simile

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Sheers' connection between the couple's relationship and the theme of weather/nature is something that echoes throughout the poem. Hopefully, this exercise allows you to evaluate and lay down the groundwork to write out a good piece of evaluation.
  • Question 2

Now evaluate the theme of peace in the poem by filling out the blank spaces below.

 

Pick the quotes in blank one and two yourself. 

 

For blank three and four, pick two out of the list of options below:

 

Metaphor
Personification 
Reverse personification
Dull
Effect
Affected
Simile

 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Sheers' development of the theme of peace in the poem is done through a variety of language devices. In this case, the simile "like a pair of wings" really emphasises, through language, the way that the couple are imitating the swans.
  • Question 3

Which two themes in the poem are introduced after the couple have witnessed the swans tipping?

CORRECT ANSWER
Peacefulness
Unity
EDDIE SAYS
Note the catalyst of the swans and how they influence a new set of themes in the poem to develop!
  • Question 4

Name two themes/motifs in the poem present before the couple witness the swans.

 

Choose from the options below and write one word in each box below:

 

Unity

Distance

Hate

Love

Peacefulness

Fulfilment

Desperation

Personification

Nature

 

You must write the words in the same order as they appear in the list or you may be marked incorrectly. 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
A bit of a tricky question, because you have to decide what, out of the options given, are themes/motifs (a recurring idea in the poem). Sorry! Nature and distance are the two main themes before the couple witness the swans. Distance, as the couple "skirt" (avoid) the lake - almost avoiding nature, before they witness the swans and embrace it. Nature, in the references to the earth, the lake, the clouds etc.
  • Question 5

How might the third line of the fourth stanza present stability? Pick one of the options from below:

 

1. Through the verb "righting", which suggests that the boats are right, despite the bad weather

2. Through the simile of "rough weather", which suggests that rough times may happen.

3. The swans represent, through the device of a simile, the idea of the couple "righting" themselves, even when they're going through "rough" times. 

4. Through the simile of "rough weather" and the adjective "rough" which suggests that, although rough times happen, love means being stable.

CORRECT ANSWER
3
EDDIE SAYS
Stability is presented here through the simile of the boats "righting", even in "rough weather" - this quote symbolises how the couple fix the rough patch in their relationship by joining hands. If you grasped this, you're on the right track!
  • Question 6

"'They mate for life" you said...'"

 

 

Tick two ways that this quote suggests that the swans have an influence over unifying the couple in the poem. 

CORRECT ANSWER
The words "for life" suggest that the commitment and unity that the swans show influence the couple
The fact that this is direct speech, which breaks the silence, suggests that the topic of the swans has reconciled the couple
EDDIE SAYS
The fact that this is direct speech is important, because it shows that the topic of the swans is important enough to break the couple's silence. When, previously in the poem, they were "silent" and "apart", the couple are now not silent (direct speech) and, naturally, less apart because of the way that the swans influence them to join hands.
  • Question 7

"As we skirted the lake"

 

 

 

Evaluate the theme of distance in the quote above. 

 

Think about:

 

The language used (world classification)

What this language suggests about the couple early on in the poem 

 

There are two marks for two sentences.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
The fact that the couple are skirting the lake suggests, at the beginning of the poem, that they are distancing themselves from nature - almost avoiding it. The way that language can reflect how particular themes are presented is always important in poetry. Of course, the language use at the end of the poem shows the theme of overcoming distance. So, the themes develop and change throughout the poem!
  • Question 8

Pick one theme which remains constant/unchanging throughout the poem:

 

Nature

Peace

Distance

 

Explain why you think this theme remains constant? What effect does this theme have on the couple’s relationship?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
The fact that the theme of nature is such a constant in the poem emphasises how important and consistent it is (the swans "mate for life", after all - nature is constant and acts as an inspiration). This theme doesn’t really change and is always in the background of the poem, influencing the couple. Perhaps Sheers is illustrating how nature is always constant, even as human relationships aren’t?
  • Question 9

Last question! You're almost done, great focus.

 

Pick one theme which does change in the poem:

 

Nature

Love

Distance

 

First, identify the correct theme. Second, give an example with two quotes throughout the poem which showcase how this theme has changed.

 

You get one mark for identifying the correct theme and two marks for identifying the two quotes.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Distance is the one theme which really changes, and you can see this in the way the couple begin "silent and apart" and end the poem joining hands "like a pair of wings settling after flight". It's up to you to decide how this changes and what Sheers is trying to indicate about the nature of human relationships. Hopefully, this activity has given you plenty to think about!
  • Question 10

Evaluate the theme of unity in the last two lines of the sixth stanza:

 

​In this particular 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 device is used in the quote?

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 how this links to the poem as a whole. In this case, Sheers conveys the couple's unity through the imagery of the swans and through reverse personification, which shows that the couple have been influenced by the unity portrayed in the swans mating and that they are not separate anymore, due to the impact of nature.
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