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Identify and Explain the Key Themes in the Poem 'Tissue' by Imtiaz Dharker

In this worksheet, students will identify the key themes in the poem 'Tissue' by Imtiaz Dharker and understand their significance.

'Identify and Explain the Key Themes in the Poem 'Tissue' by Imtiaz Dharker' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

GCSE Subjects:   English Literature

GCSE Boards:   AQA

Curriculum topic:   Poetry

Curriculum subtopic:   Power and Conflict: 'Tissue'

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

For this activity, you will need to turn to the poem 'Tissue' by Imtiaz Dharker, which can be found in the Power and Conflict section of your anthology.

 

The poem 'Tissue' by Imtiaz Dharker reveals the power of paper, and how it can be used for many different things. It is about the fragility and power of humanity, which is used as an extended metaphor all through the poem. The speaker, in the poem, uses tissue paper as an extended metaphor for life. She considers how paper can ‘alter things’ and refers to the soft thin paper of religious books. There are also real-life references to other lasting uses we have for paper in our lives, for example; maps, receipts and architectural drawings.

 

paper

 

The poem focuses mainly on the themes of religion, power and the fragility of life.

 

In the following questions, you will be asked about the meaning of these themes.

tissue

 

 

In order to identify the themes in the poem 'Tissue', we need to understand the meaning of the poem. Match the questions to the correct answers below:

Column A

Column B

How are images altered when you look at them throu...
They are very important to people and are treated ...
Books are made from paper and paper is fragile; ye...
It is fragile and can be easily broken
Why are some books "smoothed and stroked" as pages...
They have the ability to contain information that ...
In what way is human life like tissue paper?
They are blurry and unclear

 

tissue

 

 

Now that you have read the poem 'Tissue', which summary below do you think best explains the theme of the poem?

 

The poem discusses the importance of money. It has no real value, but controls everyone's lives

The poem discusses the role of paper. It records human history and is used to shape civilisation and to control lives, but is fragile

The poem discusses the importance of books and how the printed word has changed the world

One central theme running throughout the poem is religion, which is used to show the power and influence of paper.

 

The words and phrases below are all taken from the poem 'Tissue'. Can you decide which words/phrases relate to religion, and which do not?

 Words associated with religionWords NOT associated with religion
Light
Buildings
Koran
Maps
Shines
Railtracks

Let's have a deeper look at the theme of religion. Read the following quotation from 'Tissue':

 

"Pages smoothed and stroked and turned transparent with attention"

 

 

reading

 

 

Underline two words from the quotation which you think creates a sense of how religion is important to some people.

\"Pages smoothed and stroked and turned transparent with attention\"

Another theme of 'Tissue' is the power that paper can hold.

 

Despite being fragile and light, paper can hold power.

 

The following quotation is taken from the poem 'Tissue'. Can you underline the words which create a sense of the power that paper can hold?

\"Through capitals and monoliths, through the shapes that pride can make, find a way to trace a grand design\"

Let's take a deeper look at the theme of power. Read the following quotation from 'Tissue'.

 

"Paper that lets the light shine through, this is what could alter things"

 

 

morning light

 

 

How does this quotation support the theme of power?

 

Paper is so thin that it lets light through

Paper has the power to change things and record our memories

Things look different when they are produced on paper

Another theme within 'Tissue' is instability. The poet makes the point that nothing lasts forever, as nature can always destroy even the most powerful things.

 

The quotations below are all from the poem 'Tissue'. Choose one which you think supports the theme of instability.

 

"Raise a structure never meant to last"

"Paper smoothed and stroked"

"Direction of the wind"

"Transparent with attention"

Let's take a deeper look at the theme of instability. Read the following quotation from 'Tissue'.

 

"Might fly our lives like paper kites"

 

 

kite

 

 

How does this quotation support the theme of instability?

 

The kite will not always stay in the air

A kite flies in different directions, like life can

People need to spend more time having fun

Another theme of 'Tissue' is Human essence (what we are made of). The idea that material things can disappear and human beings can outlive them.

 

 

people

 

 

The quotations below are all from the poem 'Tissue'. Choose one which you think supports the theme of human essence.

 

"But let the daylight break through"

"Transparent with attention"

"Turned into your skin"

"Direction of the wind"

Let's take a deeper look at the theme of human essence. Read the following quotation from 'Tissue'.

 

"How easily they fall away on a sigh"

 

skyscraper

 

How does this quotation support the theme of human essence?

 

Buildings last a lot longer than people

Buildings make people sad

It is not large buildings that are powerful, but the people who think, plan and create them

  • Question 1

tissue

 

 

In order to identify the themes in the poem 'Tissue', we need to understand the meaning of the poem. Match the questions to the correct answers below:

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

How are images altered when you l...
They are blurry and unclear
Books are made from paper and pap...
They have the ability to contain ...
Why are some books "smoothed and ...
They are very important to people...
In what way is human life like ti...
It is fragile and can be easily b...
EDDIE SAYS
The poet uses tissue as an extended metaphor for life; tissue in all its meanings — paper, human skin and organs, plans for our future written on paper, maps printed on paper, buildings designed by architects on paper plans. The variations are many. Tissue can also refer to the makeup of the human body, physically we are all fragile just like tissue paper.
  • Question 2

 

tissue

 

 

Now that you have read the poem 'Tissue', which summary below do you think best explains the theme of the poem?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
The poem discusses the role of paper. It records human history and is used to shape civilisation and to control lives, but is fragile
EDDIE SAYS
The poem discusses the role of paper. Paper records human history and is used to shape civilisation and change lives, but it is fragile. This idea is used throughout the poem in an extended metaphor (when a single metaphor is used in multiple ways).
  • Question 3

One central theme running throughout the poem is religion, which is used to show the power and influence of paper.

 

The words and phrases below are all taken from the poem 'Tissue'. Can you decide which words/phrases relate to religion, and which do not?

CORRECT ANSWER
 Words associated with religionWords NOT associated with religion
Light
Buildings
Koran
Maps
Shines
Railtracks
EDDIE SAYS
In the first three stanzas of the poem, religion is presented as an extremely important part of some people's lives. The poet makes the point however that all religious books are fragile and the paper eventually becomes 'transparent' or thin through the constant turning and touching of the pages.
  • Question 4

Let's have a deeper look at the theme of religion. Read the following quotation from 'Tissue':

 

"Pages smoothed and stroked and turned transparent with attention"

 

 

reading

 

 

Underline two words from the quotation which you think creates a sense of how religion is important to some people.

CORRECT ANSWER
"Pages smoothed and stroked and turned transparent with attention"
EDDIE SAYS
The verbs "smoothed" and "stroked" create the impression that the paper that religious books are printed on is very important, perhaps sacred, to some people. The fact that they treat the pages with such care, shows that the information they hold is valuable and important.
  • Question 5

Another theme of 'Tissue' is the power that paper can hold.

 

Despite being fragile and light, paper can hold power.

 

The following quotation is taken from the poem 'Tissue'. Can you underline the words which create a sense of the power that paper can hold?

CORRECT ANSWER
"Through capitals and monoliths, through the shapes that pride can make, find a way to trace a grand design"
EDDIE SAYS
This quotation describes how powerful buildings, built to impress, all start from a piece of paper. The poet creates the impression that people use paper to create "grand designs", which are the start of impressive things such as "capitals" and "monoliths".
  • Question 6

Let's take a deeper look at the theme of power. Read the following quotation from 'Tissue'.

 

"Paper that lets the light shine through, this is what could alter things"

 

 

morning light

 

 

How does this quotation support the theme of power?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Paper has the power to change things and record our memories
EDDIE SAYS
The quotation "Paper that lets the light shine through, this is what could alter things" creates the impression that even the most delicate kinds of paper can record the most important details - of family life, national borders or financial transactions.
  • Question 7

Another theme within 'Tissue' is instability. The poet makes the point that nothing lasts forever, as nature can always destroy even the most powerful things.

 

The quotations below are all from the poem 'Tissue'. Choose one which you think supports the theme of instability.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
"Raise a structure never meant to last"
EDDIE SAYS
The quotation "Raise a structure never meant to last" creates the impression that although paper can be the starting plan of large buildings, these buildings will not last forever, they are not infinite. This is a reference to the idea that buildings can always be destroyed by nature and conflict.
  • Question 8

Let's take a deeper look at the theme of instability. Read the following quotation from 'Tissue'.

 

"Might fly our lives like paper kites"

 

 

kite

 

 

How does this quotation support the theme of instability?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
A kite flies in different directions, like life can
EDDIE SAYS
In this quotation, the poet uses a simile (a comparison using 'like' or 'as' to create a vivid image) to suggest that our lives are not always in our control, but more like kites being blown by the wind. A kite could be described as being 'unstable' in the same way that power and buildings are.
  • Question 9

Another theme of 'Tissue' is Human essence (what we are made of). The idea that material things can disappear and human beings can outlive them.

 

 

people

 

 

The quotations below are all from the poem 'Tissue'. Choose one which you think supports the theme of human essence.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
"Turned into your skin"
EDDIE SAYS
The quotation "Turned into your skin" supports the theme of human essence, as it makes the point at the end of the poem that although all of the ideas in the poem have been created by paper, it is actually humans who have started them off. The buildings, maps and books might all disappear, but ideas created by people will live on.
  • Question 10

Let's take a deeper look at the theme of human essence. Read the following quotation from 'Tissue'.

 

"How easily they fall away on a sigh"

 

skyscraper

 

How does this quotation support the theme of human essence?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
It is not large buildings that are powerful, but the people who think, plan and create them
EDDIE SAYS
This quotation creates the idea that the essence of human beings can outlast even things that seem permanent but have collapsed, like large buildings. The poet is making the point that it is people we should value, and not the impressive buildings that they create.
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