Don’t learn quotes for GCSE

Don’t learn quotes for GCSE

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Don’t learn quotes.

Don’t ask which “top ten quotes” you should be learning for every character and theme.

Learn what to write about quotations instead.

Which ONE quotation would you learn? Which ONE quotation is the key to the character or theme?

For example, for the poem Mother: Any Distance

The line “Anchor.  Kite” is the key to the poem’s comments on the relationship between parents and children. The concept of a “kite”, trying to fly free into the sky – a symbol of freedom – is counteracted (counterweighted, perhaps?!) with the “anchor” holding it back. It would be easy to read this as a metaphor for the child in the relationship being held back from ‘flying free’ and making their own way, as a negative comment on the way parental expectations can hold us back and weigh us down. Or, it could be read as a positive – a kite allowed to fly free is lost forever and doomed to destruction. By allowing the last “hundredth of an inch” the mother in the poem is giving as much space to the child as possible, enabling them to find their feet and their freedom with the knowledge that there is always a stabilising force behind them to keep them from being lost in the adult world. While the caesura in the middle suggests the distance between them we should remember the meaning of the first line “any distance wider than a single span requires a second pair of hands”; nobody can manoeuvre this world alone, and we all need the support of someone stabilising us  even if we want them at a distance.


Search your exercise books for key quotations, re-read essays – which quotes do you circle round and come back to? Which have resonated throughout your study?

If your notes are less than stellar than put the title into a google search (or for a novel something like “Henry Jekyll …” and see what comes up on Goodreads) as a starting point!

What do you think?

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