One of the most important elements of NEA work is the choice of theme. Students often encounter problems when the theme they have selected proves too broad to be effectively addressed within the given NEA word limits. A theme that enables a sharp focus on the text or texts is usually far more effective, especially if that theme allows for treatment of all the assessment objectives and a close analysis of the texts as literary constructs. As an example of such an approach, here we will explore the narrative significance of floods in two novels, George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss (1860) and Graham Swift’s Waterland (1983).
Floods have a long literary history. From The Epic of Gilgamesh and the biblical tale of Noah’s Ark to J. G. Ballard’s The Drowned World and Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast, narratives over the centuries have used floods to create dramatic tension and explore the nature of what it means to be human. The Mill on the Floss and Waterland have many thematic features in common, including a focus on family life, a significant geographic and temporal setting, and an examination of the destructive effects of guilt, but it can be argued that in both texts it is the elemental force of the flood that most dramatically brings together all of these disparate themes.
Your organisation does not have access to this article.
Sign up today to give your students the edge they need to achieve their best grades with subject expertiseSubscribe