What should I include in my IGCSE drama essay? Do I have to mention metaphor, theme, tone or mood? I have seen many past papers and lots of questions are about writing your thoughts, exploring how...

What should I include in my IGCSE drama essay? Do I have to mention metaphor, theme, tone or mood? I have seen many past papers and lots of questions are about writing your thoughts, exploring how the writer portrays something and so on. For questions that ask for your thoughts, how can I earn lots of marks? Do I have to write in the third or first person? For questions which ask you to explore how the author portrays or creates something, such as feelings etc., how should I approach it?

Thank you. 

Expert Answers
durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Whatever essay you write, always maintain the format of an introduction with body paragraphs and a conclusion to round it off. A plan is a crucial part and will help you stay focused on your topic. The drama essay is the theory part of your drama studies and should use the first person (I) to describe situations, characters and their personality development, the style of any performances you may be referring to, the schemes and deceptions and your own impressions of any particular work to which you refer. Ideally, this essay will show that you are ready to consider writing your own dramatic production and recognize the subtleties of the text and those elements which either add to it or detract from it to create a masterpiece. Dramatic productions are texts that epitomize or represent what the writer is trying to portray and the words and instructions must reveal the writer's intention and bring the text to life.     

Questions that ask you to explain how a writer portrays his intention can be answered by mentioning the diction (the words themselves), metaphor, theme, tone and mood. You can discuss the effect of metaphor and the atmosphere created by the tone and how the theme is enhanced by these elements. Style and the dramatic technique indicate whether your examples are perhaps comedy or satire and so on and the tone reveals the romance, the sarcasm, the humor, the irony or whatever is relevant to your choices.  

If you are writing your thoughts on something, mention the effect that the tone, symbolism, metaphor and words themselves have had on you. Describe how they have enhanced your understanding of the writer's intention and how you can see how much better a text is because it uses symbolism, for example. Remember to add the reasons it has this effect on you. Perhaps it helps you understand a character better or helps reveal the significance of a building, a toy, an animal or any object. Perhaps it adds to the drama because every time you see this object you know something significant will happen.  

In a nutshell:

1. Use a traditional essay structure and be sure to plan your essay.

2. Use the first person for descriptions and your own impressions.

3. Explain your grasp of the writer's intention by referring to any specific metaphorical sense, symbolism and so on, which the writer has used, giving examples to show your understanding. In Macbeth, Shakespeare uses stormy weather to foreshadow events that are "fair and foul." We understand his intention because of this and this becomes significant throughout. 

4. Talk about style and how dramatic technique reveals a writer's intention in creating a romance, a comedy, a satire, etc. In other words, this is how the writer "portrays" his meaning or purpose. Persuade the marker that you understand what these words mean. 

5. Examples are a good way to earn marks when writing your own thoughts. Different people have different interpretations so your examples reinforce your thoughts and help the marker understand where you are coming from. 

6. Create a visual picture in your own mind and then write everything from that picture which helps you understand. 

6. Good vocabulary and strong words will reinforce your own feelings. Are you impressed, captivated, mesmerized or perhaps overwhelmed, scared, intimidated or astounded by the works you will refer to? 

You need to persuade the person marking your essay that you understand the purpose of drama theory and its contribution to making words come to life.