Empathic means Empathy



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Empathic means Empathy

  • Empathy means being able ‘to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.’ To be able to understand what they are thinking, feeling and experiencing.
  • In a sense, the empathic question asks you to ‘be them’, to write as though you are that character/person.

Though you are writing from a character’s perspective, you still need to:

  • Though you are writing from a character’s perspective, you still need to:
    • Show the examiner you know the text.
    • Show how the themes/characters and setting link together and how the author’s style brings these out.
    • Cover important areas of the text. In some texts the beginning is particularly important, or the ending. You should aim to cover at least three significant moments/events in the text which display important ideas or character traits/development/relationships.

Some examples of empathic questions:

  • The Great Gatsby
  • You are Myrtle. You have just been introduced to Nick. Write your thoughts.
  • You are Meyer Wolfsheim. You have just heard that Jay Gatsby has died. Write your thoughts.
  • You are Daisy. You have just returned home after your surprise meeting with Jay Gatsby. Write your thoughts.
  • You are Jordan Baker at Gatsby’s lavish party. The butler has summoned you to a meeting with Jay Gatsby. Write your thoughts.
  • You are Tom Buchanan. You have just seen your wife kiss Jay Gatsby. Write your thoughts.
  • You can see that on the surface it appears these are simple tasks. But remember, you must allude to other characters, important events and themes and ideas, all in the language of the character you have ‘become’.

Some examples of empathic questions:

  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • You are Claudio. You have just heard that Hero has been unfaithful to you. Write your thoughts.
  • You are Leonato. Hero has just fainted. Write your thoughts.
  • You are Hero. You have just woken on the morning to your marriage to Claudio. Write your thoughts.
  • You are Borachio. You have just heard that Don John has escaped. Write your thoughts.
  • You are Don Pedro. You have just discovered that your half-brother, Don John, is responsible for Hero’s disgrace. Write your thoughts.
  • You are Hero. You have just woken up from your swoon after Claudio has refused to marry you. Write your thoughts.
  • You can see that on the surface it appears these are simple tasks. But remember, you must allude to other characters, important events and themes and ideas, all in the language of the character you have ‘become’.

Writing tips

  • You show that you know the author’s style by writing in that style and in the language of the character.
  • Does the character use slang and if so, of what era/time?
  • Is the character’s language formal and educated or informal and colloquial?
  • What does the character feel about the events and other characters?
  • Are there special words or ideas which are repeated by the character?

And more writing tips:

  • Find and highlight six really vivid quotations from the text you are studying which have to do with important character traits or important ideas.
  • Write a diary entry around your quotations using the structure of point, example and explanation. Remember to write in the first person, use lots of adjectives and write honestly as that person would speak or think or relate, using their language.
  • Proofread your work carefully. Check you have used a range of appropriate vocabulary, as well as different sentence types (complex, compound and simple) and that your writing is organised into paragraphs.

Empathy

  • Empathy
  • Circle

SUMMING UP: Remember the following points when doing your empathic task.

  • SUMMING UP: Remember the following points when doing your empathic task.
  •  
  • - If you choose an empathic task you will be asked to consider a particular moment in the text through one of the character’s eyes.
  • - To complete this task successfully you will need to show knowledge of the incident concerned, what has led up to it, what happens to the character later and detailed knowledge of the text and the character.
  • - You will need to fully understand and be able to interpret a character, use the character’s usual responses and show an overall understanding of how the character behaves in the text as a whole.
  • - The style adopted must be suitable to the character. For example, an aristocratic character would not use colloquial language. Try and think of any phrases a particular character might use.
  • - You must write as the character, therefore using the first person narrative – not ‘If I were Hari, I would....’ but ‘I feel homesick and want to return to my family in Thul...’
  •  
  • Key points for a good answer:
  • First person narrative
  • Show comprehensive knowledge of the text
  • Show knowledge of a particular character’s role
  • Show a character’s likely reactions
  • Use a suitable style.
  •  

Examiner’s explanation:

  • Knowledge
  • Candidates will be asked to explore a specific moment through the eyes of one particular character in the set novel/ play/ short story. As well as showing knowledge of the incident concerned, depending on the particular task it may be helpful if candidates demonstrate some awareness of what has led up to it. Their identification with the character might also be conditioned by their awareness of what happens to the character later in the novel/play (if that is appropriate to the task), though this will probably not be referred to specifically. Through their responses, candidates are expected to demonstrate detailed knowledge of the text and the character; but the tasks are not invitations merely to re-tell a story.
  • Understanding
  • An empathic task is designed also to test the candidate’s understanding and interpretation of a character and that character’s usual responses, and will make inferences about what s/he might be thinking or feeling about a particular situation. Good answers will be conditioned by an overall understanding of the way the character behaves in the text as a whole.
  • Voice
  • Probably the most difficult aspect of the task to tackle, the degree of success in creation of a voice will demonstrate the degree to which the candidate has engaged with the character and responded to the literary qualities of the work. The style adopted must be suitable to the character. In a Shakespeare text, for example, it would be inappropriate for an aristocratic character to speak in over-colloquial language, or for one of the ‘lower’ characters to speak in a particularly refined way. (But candidates are never expected to try to reproduce ‘Shakespearian’ English, for example.) Though it is not generally appropriate to quote directly from the text in inverted commas in answering a task of this sort, answers are likely to be enhanced by the use of particular turns of phrase normally used by the character; for example, Piggy in Lord of the Flies might refer to his ‘assmar’ or to what his Auntie thinks.

Summary of examiners’ explanation:

  • To summarise, a successful answer to an empathic task will have the following key features:
  • • it will be written in the first person
  • • it will show a comprehensive knowledge of the text and of the particular character’s role in it, but will not merely tell the story
  • • it will convincingly interpret the character’s likely reactions to a specified event
  • • it will be written in a suitable and convincing style.

Examplars

  • Examplars
  • Question
  • You are Grace Poole looking back over your experiences as guardian of the first Mrs Rochester at Thornfield Hall. Write your thoughts.
  • [Set text: Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre ]
  • Answer
  • I AM NO MISTRESS OF ANY SANITARIUM!!! Yet I am locked up in the ceiling behind a hidden door all day and all night taking care of the master’s formerly beloved. It was a horrible experience when I myself was about to snap that fragile thread of insanity! Thread? On the matter of thread I did do some magnificent embroideries in my occupation in the attic. But that’s beside the point.
  • Several times I was in trouble with the master for all her antics. I mean setting fire to the masters bed, biting her own brother in the shoulder, and even shredding the lovely Miss Eyre’s wedding veil. Poor woman, Miss Eyre! Her not knowing what she was getting into was simply shameful. At least in the end she did find out, but on her wedding day must have been even worse. Miss Eyre would have been good for him. Adding a little calm to the sea. I did find her a bit dody and all, her keeping to herself and having this humble and meek nature. But all in all; she was nice sort of person. I am happy for her now though. I do think that he was her first love, and she, his true love.
  • Especially when she went off. The poor man went off his rocker. Almost asked him whether he wanted a spat upstairs with the hyena. Oh! When all hell breaks loose though. It surely does. I shall never forget that fateful might the Hall burnt down. Not even I could soothe the devil in her this time. She surely had a motive which she achieved. Sometimes I wonder whether there was a tint of sanity left in the little lady, at least enough for her to understand the actions of the master. That would have thrown any right woman of the edge.
  • I think her death was best for her. The little jail was not good for her. Even though of her state. She deserved not to be treated like a beast. I always reach the verge of shedding a tear when such thoughts manifest my mind. But they are quickly overshadowed by that fierce fiery flame I could see in the shimmer as her orb’s in her traditional wide eyed stare.

Question

  • Question
  • You are Tybalt just after your uncle Lord Capulet has ordered you to behave yourself
  • at the ball and leave the disguised Romeo alone. Write your thoughts.
  • [Set Text: William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet]
  • Answer
  • He shall be endured? I shall not endure a villain such as he, Romeo, a Montague! He has made a mockery of the house of Capulet, attending our feast as
  • though he was invited, as though he belonged. I shall turn on Romeo as he made my uncle turn on me. How blind my uncle is, to not see this foe purposely comes here to scorn at our solemnity. How sick it makes me, to hear that Verona brags of him. He is a Montague, of no more worth than a dog, in the street. My skin crawls just looking at him. My hand yearns for my rapier. If I had it here it would be but a moment before I drove it\ deep into his heart and struck him dead.
  • Romeo is followed with the name of Montague and never before have we not drawn our longswords and rapiers to fight someone of that house. My uncle does not realize that in fact, he only makes a fool of himself and of us, the more worthy Capulets. I cannot tolerate this insult to my name. Romeo has soiled our name; and only under the protection of my uncle does he live right at this moment. Romeo is a villain! A shameful villain!, If I cannot make a mutiny among these guests, then I will make one on the street … a challenge! The coward should hide with shame if he does not accept. To the house of dogs I will send a letter. For life or death he must fight and I will make sure it is death he chooses.
  • I feel myself shaking with anger. Romeo is to blame. By my life he will accept my challenge. I am no princo, no goodman boy. I am Tybalt, Prince of Cats and I shall never stop living up to this name. With what little patience I have, I will wait for this revenge. Romeo will pay for his insult with his life, it’s a certainty – that I swear on the name and house of Capulet.

Examiners’ commentary:

  • Commentary
  • The answer begins very strongly, with a direct echo of the text: ‘He shall be endured’, and later ‘this foe purposely comes here to scorn at our solemnity’. The candidate is integrating the actual language of the play seamlessly into the monologue. The strength of feeling attributed to Tybalt is convincing and the language suitably violent.
  • The ideas are well developed and there is a sense of Tybalt working through his intention to exact revenge. There are also allusions to earlier events such as the confrontation with Mercutio: ‘I am no princox, no goodman boy’, which are made to contribute to the strength of his feelings towards Romeo. The answer was judged to exhibit all the characteristics of a top band answer.
  • Mark 19/20 (Band 1)

General Grade Descriptors for Empathic Questions

  • General Grade Descriptors for Empathic Questions
  • Band 8 0-1 The answer does not meet the criteria for band 7
  • Band 7 2-3 Candidates will show a little knowledge of what the character does.
  • Band 6 4-5 Candidates will show some knowledge of what the character does and express some view about the reasons for action.
  • Band 5 6-9 Candidates will show some understanding of character through the aspects of the text referred to. There will be a little mentioning of feelings and ideas.
  • Band 4 10-13 Candidates will show a basic understanding of what the character does and thinks. These ideas will show a little evidence of being expressed in an appropriate way.
  • Band 3 14-17 Candidates will have a sound working knowledge on which to base their writing, which will have features of expression which are suitable and appropriate to the character or occasion.
  • Band 2 18-21 Candidates will have a good knowledge and understanding and be able to use this to produce writing expressed in a way which is largely fitting and authentic. The character will be clearly recognisable through the voice assumed.
  • Band 1 22-25 Candidates will use a full and assured understanding of the text to write in a manner which expresses the thoughts, feelings and attitudes of the character with assurance and insight. The voice assumed will be entirely appropriate for the character.

Finally:

  • Emphatic writing might seem an ‘easy option’ but it will suit some texts and students more than others. Don’t see it as ‘easy’. Do plenty of practice essays, read exemplars. Emphatic essays can be rewarding, interesting and fun.


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