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. Introduction • 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 Nettles The boys reaction once he has killed the cat 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 cupboard 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 & vulnerable – He hates the cat – He lashes out without thinking of the consequences – He is left feeling guilty about what he has done Nettles – 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. POINT > EVIDENCE > COMMENT 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.