CCEA Identity Essay Titles

Identity Essay Titles

Introduction

Our identities are complex. It is how we perceive ourselves and how we are defined by other people. We are also influenced by history, geography and our culture. However, our identities are not fixed because we are constantly acting and reacting to the world.

When it comes to the GCSE English Literature examination, you have to be prepared. These practice questions will help open up the debate about the meanings and messages of the poems in this anthology.

Only one poem will be stipulated by the question. You will have to select another poem from the identity anthology to compare and contrast with their choice. However, some of the following essay questions have paired the poems so you can get on with the analysis.

The key term of the question is in bold.

Significant Moments

Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken and Sinead Morrisey’s Genetics both deal with the theme of significant moments and their impact on our identity.

With close reference to the ways each poet uses language, compare and contrast what the speakers in the poems say about how our identity is defined by significant moments. You should include relevant contextual material.

[Most poems focus on a significant moment, but you could also consider DH Lawrence’s Piano and Mathew Arnold’s Dover Beach because both speakers reach a profound understanding of their identity. Ciarán Carson’s Belfast Confetti certainly describes a significant moment.]

Conflict

Ciarán Carson’s Belfast Confetti and RS Thomas’ Here both deal with the theme of conflict and how it shapes our identity.

With close reference to the ways each poet uses language, compare and contrast what the speakers in the poems say about how our identity is defined by conflict. You should include relevant contextual material.

Love

Mathew Arnold’s Dover Beach and William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29 deal with the theme of love and how it helps define our identity.

With close reference to the ways each poet uses language, compare and contrast what the speakers in the poems say about how our identity is defined by love. You should include relevant contextual material.

[Paul Maddern’s Effacé is another poem which explores romantic love.]

Relationships

Gillian Clarke’s Catrin deals with the theme of relationships and how they influence our identity. Look again at this poem, and at one other poem from the Identity anthology which also deals with the theme of relationships.

With close reference to the ways each poet uses language, compare and contrast what the speakers in the poems say about relationships. You should include relevant contextual material.

[Simon Armitage’s Kid an obvious choice for this question.]

Nature

Mathew Arnold’s Dover Beach and Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken deal with the theme of nature and its influence on our identity.

With close reference to the ways each poet uses language, compare and contrast what the speakers in the poems say about the theme of nature and its influence on our identity. You should include relevant contextual material.

City Life

Philip Larkin’s I Remember, I Remember deals with the theme of how our identities are influenced by the cities where we live. Look again at this poem, and at one other poem from the Identity anthology which also deals with the theme of how our identities are influenced by the cities where we live.

With close reference to the ways each poet uses language, compare and contrast what the speakers in the poems say about the theme of how our identities are influenced by the cities where we live. You should include relevant contextual material.

[Belfast Confetti is the most obvious choice for comparison.]

Significant Places

Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken deals with how our identity is influenced by significant places in our lives. Look again at this poem, and at one other poem from the Identity anthology which also deals with the theme of our identity is influence by the significant places in our lives.

With close reference to the ways each poet uses language, compare and contrast what the speakers in the poems say about the theme of our identity is influenced by significant places in our lives. You should include relevant contextual material.

[Carol Ann Duffy’s In Mrs Tilscher’s Class might be the most popular option, but Ciarán Carson’s Belfast Confetti is another possibility.]

Change

William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29 and DH Lawrence’s Piano deal with how our identities can change.

With close reference to the ways each poet uses language, compare and contrast what the speakers in the poems say about how our identities can change. You should include relevant contextual material.

[Since stories often describe a change in the protagonist’s situation, most of the poems in the anthology will explore that change. Armitage’s Kid and Duffy’s In Mrs Tilscher’s Class are two poems which have obvious connections.]

Society

Louis Macniece’s Prayer Before Birth and RS Thomas’s Here deal with the theme of society and its impact on our identity.

With close reference to the ways each poet uses language, compare and contrast what the speakers in the poems say about the theme of society and its impact on our identity. You should include relevant contextual material.

[Belfast Confetti, Docker and Dover Beach all offer some commentary on society and its impact on our identity.]

Suffering

William Ernest Henley’s Invictus and RS Thomas’ Here deal with the theme of suffering.

With close reference to the ways each poet uses language, compare and contrast what the speakers in the poems say about how our identity is defined by suffering. You should include relevant contextual material.

Adversity

William Ernest Henley’s Invictus deals with how our identity is defined by adversity. Look again at this poem, and at one other poem from the Identity anthology which also deals with the theme of our identity is defined by adversity.

With close reference to the ways each poet uses language, compare and contrast what the speakers in the poems say about how our identity is defined by adversity. You should include relevant contextual material.

Growing into our Identity

Simon Armitage’s Kid deals with the theme of growing into our identity. Look again at this poem, and at one other poem from the Identity anthology which also deals with the theme of growing into our identity.

With close reference to the ways each poet uses language, compare and contrast what the speakers in the poems say about growing into our identity. You should include relevant contextual material.

[Duffy’s In Mrs Tilscher’s Class or Larkin’s I Remember, I Remember are both good options for this question.]

Sample Essay

Exploring the theme of how we grow into our identity, this essay compares and contrasts Simon Armitage’s “Kid” and Carol Ann Duffy’s “In Mrs Tilscher’s Class”. The response offers some insight into how you might approach this examination question.

Parents

Look again at Genetics by Sinead Morrissey which deals with the theme of how our parents influence our identity, and at one other poem from the IDENTITY anthology which also deals with the theme of how our parents influence our identity.

With close reference to the ways each poet uses language, compare and contrast what the speakers in the poems say about our parents influence our identity. You should include relevant contextual material.

Staying True to your Identity

Invictus by William Ernest Henley explores with how we should stay true to our identity. Look again at this poem, and at one other poem from the Identity anthology which also deals with the theme of how it is important to stay true to your identity.

With close reference to the ways each poet uses language, compare and contrast what the speakers in the poems say about the importance of staying true to your identity. You should include relevant contextual material.

Sample Essay

This essay compares and contrasts “Invictus” and “Effacé” in terms of the importance of staying true to your identity and offers some insight into how you might approach this examination question.

Mothers

Look again at Genetics by Sinead Morrissey and Catrin by Gillian Clarke which both deal with the theme of motherhood.

With close reference to the ways each poet uses language, compare and contrast what the speakers in the poems say about how being a mother shapes their identity. You should include relevant contextual material.

Choices

Look again at Genetics by Sinead Morrissey and The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost which both deal with the theme of choices and their impact on our identity.

With close reference to the ways each poet uses language, compare and contrast what the speakers in the poems say about how our identities are shaped by our choices. You should include relevant contextual material.

Self-awareness

Look again at Here by R. S. Thomas which deals with the theme of self-awareness, and at one other poem from the IDENTITY anthology which also deals with the theme of self-awareness.

With close reference to the ways each poet uses language, compare and contrast what the speakers in the poems say about self-awareness. You should include relevant contextual material.

Childhood

Piano by D.H. Lawrence deals with how our identity is influenced by our memories of childhood. Look again at this poem, and at one other poem from the Identity anthology which also deals with the theme of our identity being influenced by our memories of childhood.

With close reference to the ways each poet uses language, compare and contrast what the speakers in the poems say about identity and the influence of memories of childhood. You should include relevant contextual material.

Faith

Mathew Arnold’s Dover Beach and RS Thomas’ Here deal with the theme of faith.

With close reference to the ways each poet uses language, compare and contrast what the speakers in the poems say about how our faith can define our identity. You should include relevant contextual material.

[This is a tough question.]

Other Themes

There are a number of other themes which could be explored. For example, the speakers in Morrisey’s Genetics and Frost’s The Road Not Taken deliberate over their future. Prejudice, power and joy are possible questions. It would also be interesting to analyse poems in this anthology in terms of how our identities change over time.

If you have any suggestions about other themes which might appear in the exam, please let us know in the comment section below.

Learn More

Thanks for reading!