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Claire's comments

How I interpreted the topic - VCE vs Uni

I had done "Jane Eyre" before in VCE in Year 11 literature, and in Year 11 the novel of "Jane Eyre" as a whole was treated in a very different way.

In Year 11 it was lot more structured by your teacher and they expected a very different thing of you. They expected you to just answer the question that they put forth and then answer the next question. And you can do this is a certain amount of detail but you can never really deviate from the question. Whereas as University, rather than VCE, you have a lot more room for your own interpretation of the topic and the thing that you want to include, and don't want to include.And I think initially it brings out the complexity of the novel a lot more. Rather than just being expected to answer a certain question, they're asking you to bring out a lot more of the complexities

Problems with my argument

I thought the effectiveness of my essay suffered as well because of the type of essay topic it was. Which was asking you to make a judgement about Mr. Rochester. What do we learn about him from this and how far does the novel endorse his claim that he has acted for the best? So the novel is asking you to endorse his claim one way or the other. What I thought was one way or the other; which in reality doesn't have to just be one way or the other way, but rather him take a view that encompasses both ways.

Generally when I have been writing essays, I've been expected to take a view for or against. When as in this essay, it's asking to bring out the complexities of the question and by doing this its hard to take a strictly for or strictly against stance.

In my essay I was arguing Mr. Rochester's manipulative nature showed that he had a darker side of his nature. So the novel didn't endorse that he acted for the best; but when I was doing I said, "Oh, alright, this is my argument", and then I'd read over it and I'd think, "Hang on, what about this; I haven't included this in my essay?"

But it was hard to incorporate your argument and incorporate all the other things that don't really agree with your argument but you don't really know what to do with them. So that was what was really difficult for me. I never ...have a qualified answer, but I didn't really know how to fit it together to do that. I knew that you don't have to say "Yes, I agree with this totally." But I couldn't really fit the points together well enough to make a good argument that was qualified.

How I researched the essay

I found other sources not through the reading list; it didn't really come into my head to use the reading list. Just because it hadn't really been mentioned in tutorials and I hadn't had a good look through the subject book since the beginning of term.

So I went to the library and I found a book in the reserved section on Jane Eyre in general and so I went to the reserved section of the library, and there were lots of books there about Jane Eyre so I got a big pile of them, had a good look through all of them; particularly where they made a reference to Mr. Rochester or Bertha Mason or Mr. Rochester and Jane Eyre's relationship or Mr. Rochester and Bertha Mason's relationship.

After I read sources that I found in the library, I took quite a few notes on those and then I went back to my lecture notes and I went through those fairly thoroughly - trying to find what was relevant in the lecture notes. So basically things about Mr. Rochester and Bertha Mason.

Then when I compiled all those notes, I went back to the actual novel and read through the chapter the essay topic was concerned, but in a lot more detail. I'd read every sentence and say "Oh alright, what does this mean, what does this say about Mr. Rochester, what does this say about what kind of person he is?" Then I started to write an essay plan and just picked out the most important points from my notes, things that I felt were most relevant to the topic. And I kind of did this by saying, "Looking at my notes, what does this say about Mr. Rochester, what does this say about Mr. Rochester in relevance to the situation, and is this important enough to go into my essay?". So I made quite a few major points by doing that and then just put them into an order that I thought ___ the most.

How I wrote the essay

When I actually came to writing the essay, I looked at my plan and I worked from that. I started with my first topic sentence, which formed my first paragraph after the introduction. I decided to leave the introduction until last and then I worked through the first paragraph, second paragraph, third paragraph and after I'd done all of that, I changed the order around a little bit just to make sure that they flowed as I wanted them. Then I went back and did my introduction when I was clear about exactly what it was that I was saying. I did a little bit of revising but probably not as much as I would have liked. After I read through my essay at the end, I realised that it didn't really fit together as well as I would have liked. The points that I was making were probably not flowing together to form as good an argument as I would have liked. So I made a fair few changes to the introduction mainly just to encompass more of the points from the essay. I didn't do as much revising as I would have liked because I didn't organise my time very well and that was something I think you've just got to learn to do.

Writing essays in VCE and uni

In high school, teachers are prepared and willing to look over your drafts and give you comments about them and give you general advice along the way rather than, at Uni I think mainly because there's just so many students they're not really prepared to do that. They're prepared to give you general advice and maybe if you show them some points then they'll comment on them but they're not going to read your whole draft and make lots of comments on your draft and hand you back you draft and then take another draft and along those lines. So, which means that it's more up to you, they're giving you less advice in that way as well. A major difference between high school and Uni also is the fact that at Uni you're supposed, you take a more critical view of sources, or you're encouraged to look at them and read them and understand them and then think, alright, do I believe this? What does this mean to me? Compare them with other sources and really critically analyse them which in high school you read them and you can quote from them or something along those lines but you don't really compare, you're not really encouraged to think, alright, this is what they

Other differences between VCE and uni

I think the main difference in the process I used between this assignment in Uni and the year 12 assignments was that I needed to, or I went a lot more indepth than I did in year 12, I used a wider range of sources than I would in year 12 and I got less help and advice from teachers than I would have got in year 12. It was a lot more up to me to interpret the topic and decide what I want to do with it and how I want to approach it rather than a teacher telling me how to interpret the question and telling me what approach to take, which could happen in high school. It was also a lot, a matter of organising my own time because there's a lot more free hours in the day and so it's up to the student to figure out when they're going to do it and plan their time, whereas in year 12 and year 11 your assignments are spaced out so you do one and then it's due, and then you do another one and then it's due, which is I think a big difference, because you've got to take a lot more responsibility for yourself and you've got to be a lot more independent. The access to teachers that you have between high school and Uni is a major difference. I've always found it pretty hard at Unit to find my tutors and my lecturers when I'm not in a Tute and I'm not in a lecture. You've got to email them or call them or something along those lines because they're a lot harder to track down, rather than at high school they're pretty much always there so you can just go see them in their staff room or see them in class everyday.

What I think of my essay

I thought my research process was effective because I explored a number of different places to research and I felt like I increased my understanding of the novel and I felt that the whole thing of writing an essay plan and kind of formulating your thoughts before you actually start writing is a good idea - because it makes you a lot clearer; but I just didn't think I left myself enough time. Straight after I handed my final piece of work in, mainly because of the feeling of being rushed and not organized and not putting enough time into it. I didn't put as much time into it as I could've, I could've put more time into it, but because I felt so rushed I just probably spent more time feeling rushed and worrying about it than I actually spent doing the essay. I didn't like it at all. Now I read it and I think it's not too bad, but I always felt like I could've done a better job if I'd allowed myself more time and I'd allowed myself to be a bit more organized and allowed myself to have the time to get really interested in it; because you're going to do a better job if you're really interested in something and then you like...

My advice to new students - time

Advice I would give new students would be to plan your time well and try and organise yourself as well as possible before you even start. Allow yourself enough time to do things and make use of all your resources, even if they're not right in your face and you're not constantly bombarded by your teachers and your tutors and all that, they are there to help you and they will help you, and I think that would be a good idea to make use of them, which I didn't really do in my essay.

My advice to new students - confidence

Another aspect of the writing process that you go through when writing an essay is to do with your level of confidence about writing the essay and how this affects your approach to it, and how you feel about it, because I think that if you're relaxed and confident and you know that you can do it and are positive that you'll do a good job then you spend a lot of time concentrating on the essay and you work harder at it, and you'll put the hours in to do a really good job if you know that you can do it and you know, you like what you're doing, whereas if you're not confident about it and if you're kind of panicky and disorganised and you just want to get it over and done with you're not going to put the same amount of time into it, or even if you do you'll spend more of you time kind of thinking oh no, I've got to get this done, I haven't done this in time and you know, it's due tomorrow, blah, blah, blah, and it's just, it's not as god a use of your

My use of sources

I didn't use the secondary sources that I took notes on in my essay because of what Alan said about using them interestingly and about finding a view that is contrary to your own - so that you can argue against it. And I didn't feel like there was enough relevant information in the sources that I read to actually make use of them; it was a good idea that I read them because it increased my understanding of the novel and increased my understanding of Mr. Rochester. But I didn't feel like there was enough relevant information on him to include that in the essay...

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