Comprehension & Roger McGough - Sample Essay

Violent verbs such as ‘hacked’ and ‘fired’ are used throughout the poem to add aggression to the poem, as do fierce nouns such as ‘chaos’ and ‘blast’. These key words help the reader get a clearer visual image of the classroom. Throughout the poem, any speech the teacher uses is sadistic and sometimes sarcastic. This adds to the comic exaggeration.

The language used in ‘The Lesson’ is vital for Roger McGough to write about violence in schools. Without as many language techniques used, the poem would be dull and perhaps would make the ironic, comical side less obvious.

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Carol Ann Duffy uses language in ‘Comprehension’ to write about violence and tension in schools. The title ‘Comprehension’ means that ‘All comers are welcome’. This is meant to be sarcastic because it is clear from the seven stanzas that not everyone is greeted with the same respect.

Wayne is the most racist and we see this when he tells us that he supports the National Front as they are well known for being a racist party. ‘I spit on your grave’ was banned by the BBFC in the 1980s because it was seen as too violent. Wayne’s stanza revolves around violence and Carol Ann Duffy has the name of political parties and films which are well known for being based on violent behaviour to help the reader get a clear image of Wayne and what type of student he is whilst in school.

Wayne also tells us his hobbies, which include ‘Paki-bashing’. We know from this that he has been violent towards people from other nationalities and yet he seems proud of this. He refers to the immigrants as ‘them’ as he insinuates that they are taking all the jobs, he is bitter.

There is definite tension between Wayne and immigrants, it is as if he does not believe they have the right to be in the country. The sixth speaker refers to Sikhs as he says how his sister went out with ‘one’. He separates him as if he has no identity. ‘There was murder’ suggests that the family were not happy with the relationship and this leads us to believe there is tension with this speaker and the Sikh community. He says Sikhs are ‘different’ and that ‘You cant help taking the piss’.

He is mocking them, which most probably leads to violence in the school. Carol Ann Duffy uses the reactions the children have to immigrants to write about violence in schools. It is clear from the way the characters speak and what they speak of that people from other cultures are not welcome in their community.

Roger McGough and Carol Ann Duffy both discuss violence and tension in schools, but in very different ways. Roger McGough uses the teacher’s feelings and turns this into an exaggerated, comical poem whereas Carol Ann Duffy uses the voices of her stereotypical characters. However they differentiate, both poets agree on the idea that school is no longer the safe place it ought to be.

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