GUILT essay task

Vernon Scannell
Essay Task
Exploring the theme of guilt
The essay task:
Discuss how the theme of guilt is
explored in either ‘A Case of Murder’
or ‘Nettles’.
You should refer to the use of poetic
techniques in your essay.
• Introduce the poem & poet
• Explain what your essay is about
• Explain briefly what the poem is about
Reference to guilt in the poems:
A Case of Murder
The boys reaction once he has killed the
The boy’s parents feel bad because their
son is very hurt and upset
The fact that the boy cannot look at, or
touch, the dead cat
They don’t feel as though they can
protect him
The dead cat in the cupboard grows
bigger and gets louder in the boy’s head,
representing his guilt
No matter what they do, bad things will
keep happening
The boy hides the dead cat in the
The boy is very young and vulnerable and
can’t protect himself
The boy was left home alone and is only 9 The nettles are vicious and strong.
years old, so his parents should feel guilty
How the theme of guilt develops:
A Case of Murder
– The young boy is left
alone, aged 9 &
– He hates the cat
– He lashes out without
thinking of the
– He is left feeling guilty
about what he has
– The little boy is only 3
and vulnerable
– The nettles are harsh
and they hurt him
– He is too young to
know to avoid them
– His parents are left
feeling guilty as they
were unable to
protect him
Main Body of Essay
• You need to go through the poem, line by line, and pick
out quotes which you can link to the theme of guilt.
The boy’s father feels bad about what has happened to
his son and reacts angrily: “I took my billhook, honed
the blade / And went outside and slashed in fury with
it.” The word ‘fury’ shows us just how upset the father
was feeling about the hurt his son had experienced.
‘Slashed’ also suggests a violent, aggressive reaction
and again conveys the strength of the father’s emotion.

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