Critical Essay Planning – Prose: ‘The Lighthouse’ Step 1: Pick your question Step 2

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Critical Essay Planning – Prose: ‘The Lighthouse’
Step 1: Pick your question
Step 2: write your introduction: TARTS
Step 3: Bullet point ideas for the sections that will feature in your essay (this list is not exhaustive; add your own ideas):

  • Young children alone on the beach

  • Disagreement between children / bullying nature of older sister

  • Significance of the initial setting

  • Meeting with the first stranger

  • Foreshadowing the events at the end

  • Meeting the stranger from the golf course

  • Significance of setting matching the character – anonymity, lack of threat

  • Irony of warning from the man

  • Irony of Megan’s statement to Bobby

  • Foreshadowing of the buoy in the water

  • Turning point at the lighthouse – Megan realises that the lighthouse is insignificant compared to the safety of her brother

  • Megan sees that the man was indeed a danger

  • Megan killed by the combination of the man and the setting

  • Megan consumed by the setting

  • Odd title

Step 4: Select the points that are relevant for your essay choice and start to put these into a sensible structure.
Step 5: Write down topic sentences for the beginning of every paragraph – these have two function: 1- use the words of the question, 2 – introduce the paragraph focus
Step 6: include the quotations that you plan to use in each section
Step 7: start writing the main body of your essay following the TPEAR structure (topic sentence, point, evidence, analysis, reaction/refer to question)


Step 1 – Choose Question

2. Choose a short story in which suspense or tension is created. Show how this suspense or tension is built up and what effect it has on your appreciation of the short story. (2001)

Step 2 – Introduction TARTS

Agnes Owens’s short story ‘The Lighthouse’ effectively creates suspense and tension throughout. The short story focuses on two young children who have been left by their parents to play on a deserted beach. The older sibling, Megan, decides that they should walk to the far off lighthouse, but her younger brother, Bobby, does not wish to go. The two argue and Megan abandons Bobby to pursue her goal. Upon reaching the lighthouse she realises her mistake but unfortunately arrives back too late to save them both from a strange man. The short story uses a variety of techniques such as setting, characterisation and foreshadowing in order to maintain the suspense and tension throughout.
Step 3 & 4 – Bullet point ideas for essay

  • Title – strange steer.

  • Megan and Bobby quickly fall out and Megan bullies Bobby

  • Foreshadowing – “a monster will get you”

  • Setting – ‘deserted beach’ causes the reader to be immediately concerned

  • Stranger on golf course – non-threatening, Megan still worried, irony of his warning

  • Foreshadowing of the body in the water at the Lighthouse

  • Confirmation of the threat the stranger poses always delayed, but hinted at- ‘hovering around Bobby’, ‘bent to hear if Megan was breathing’ – only very subtly realised right at the end that he is murdering Megan and kidnapping Bobby.

  • Setting adds to the tension as it absorbs Megan at the end

Step 4 & 5 – All Topic Sentences (the first sentence of each paragraph)

    • The title effectively creates a sense of suspense in Owens’s short story.

    • Setting effectively sparks the reader’s concern from the outset of the short story.

    • Tension is created early on when the siblings have a disagreement about what they wish to do.

    • Foreshadowing is used throughout the story to increase the tension and hint towards the disturbing outcome at the end of the short story.

    • Setting, irony and characterisation combine to heighten the tension when the stranger on the golf course is introduced o the story.

    • Foreshadowing is used again latterly to heighten the tension as Megan begins to appreciate the danger that she has left her brother.

    • Confirmation of threat that the stranger’s poses is held off until the very end of the short story to keep the reader engaged.

    • Setting is used effectively in the final paragraph of the short story to reveal Megan’s fate.

Step 6 – Quotations

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