Teaching comparative poetry analysis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter outlines a method of teaching the comparative analysis of poetry through furnishing students with the linguistic frameworks and knowledge to facilitate productive textual exploration. It explores how using range of lexical and grammatical frameworks to analyse texts helps students deepen their understanding of emotions and personal ‘truth’ conveyed in Plath’s poem as well as in her husband’s retaliatory act of ‘writing back’. The language frameworks provide a bridge between broad question and students’ analysis, furnishing them with tools from which to generate interpretations. Whilst the contextual background of the poems is rich and fascinating, in a Language and Literature classroom it may be beneficial to introduce this context at mid-point in teaching rather than prior to analysis. In Plath’s poem, students identified dynamic verbs used to describe nature and weather such as ‘gagging’, ‘tearing’ and ‘blinding’, suggesting that together these verb choices create an impression of her powerlessness and helplessness in the face of the brutality of nature.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTeaching English Language and Literature 16-19
EditorsFurzeen Ahmed, Marcello Giovanelli, Megan Mansworth, Felicity Titjen
Place of PublicationLondon
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2020


  • teaching
  • literature
  • language
  • learning
  • English


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