Themes and Mood in the Poem

Themes and Mood in the Poem

A poet uses all of his or her techniques in order to convey the theme and mood of a poem. In your essay you should show how the poet uses these methods to convey the theme. That is to say, you shouldn't talk about the theme as something separate from the poem.

A poet's choice of structure, imagery, voice, language, rhyme all influence the reader's understanding of the theme and create the sense of mood.

In your essay, you must make the theme of the poem explicit, and then go on to show how it is portrayed.

Think carefully about how the poem is written. If the poem appears to be about something very simple, ask yourself whether there is anything deeper behind it. Do elements of the poem have more than one meaning?

All of the examining boards reward originality of ideas. What is important is that you back up your statements with specific evidence. Remember that this is an English Literature exam, not a philosophical question.

Don't forget the purpose of the essay and get yourself lost in discussions of issues of love, death or religion. Always relate back to the poem.

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  • Does a theme develop during the poem?
  • Does the poet present alternative viewpoints?
  • Does the poet's attitude appear to change during the poem?
  • Has a specific event or series of experiences influenced the attitudes of the poet or the character in the poem?
  • Is there a distinction between the viewpoint expressed by one character and that of the poet?
  • Is more than one theme expressed in the poem?
  • Is the poem reflective, aggressive, persuasive or descriptive?
  • What words and techniques are used to create the mood?
  • Does the mood of the poem appear to change?
  • How is the reader left feeling at the end of the poem?
  • Does the poem appear to answer its own question or does it leave the reader uncertain?

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