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4 Related text options for English

By Simon Hennessy on 19 November 2019NSWblogEnglishHSC

At this stage, we know that you’ve probably heard a few suggestions from teachers or siblings about what to use as the related text for the Common Module of year 12 English, but too many cooks can spoil the broth, and it can be overwhelming trying to decide who to listen to and which one to use. So, we have gathered all the suggestions and have narrowed it down for you based on your prescribed text.

To Kill A Mockingbird (novel) by Harper Lee

Prescribed Text: The Crucible

The major themes of Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible are prejudice and injustice, shown through how a small town can be consumed by the hysteria of persecution. In this case, it concerns the Salem witch trials of 17th-century colonial America, with witchcraft being the perceived crime of many of the play’s central characters.

Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird shares these themes, as it portrays racial prejudice seeing the false conviction of a black man accused of rape. Further parallels exist between the two in the setting of the small, fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama.

The contrast between the warmth and humour infused into Harper Lee’s work and the tragic dramatization of the Crucible, while both tackle similar themes and critique the dark side of American history, make them an ideal match.

Oklahoma! (film) by Rodgers and Hammerstein

Prescribed Text: The Merchant of Venice

While a cheerful musical and a Shakespearian classic may seem to be an odd pairing, there’s plenty of common ground to make Oklahoma a good related text for Merchant.

The Merchant of Venice is a love story that subverts romantic expectations to create a comic situation, with Bassanio and Portia’s romance at first an effort by Bassanio to clear his debt. Similarly, the two main romances in Oklahoma are complicated by pride and promiscuity respectively, resulting in the comic manifestation of musical numbers such as All Er Nuthin.

Both texts also present relatively sympathetic portrayals of their villains. Shylock is villainous and greedy, yet his “Hath a Jew not eyes?” speech verbalises the mistreatment of his religion in European society at the time. In Oklahoma, Jud - while dangerous and unstable - is also the personification of the mistreated lower classes of American society.

Children of Men (film) by Alfonso Cuaron

Prescribed Text: Nineteen Eighty-Four

George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, where a dystopian future is depicted through the eyes of conformist turned rebel Winston Smith, is a popular choice for prescribed text for many.

2006 film Children of Men tackles the same subject matter of a totalitarian, futuristic society. In Clive Owen’s protagonist Theo, we have a tragic hero who follows a similar path to Winston from conformity and despair to rebellion and hope.

Both stories act as an allegory for what the future might look like if the problems of their time are not confronted - for Orwell, the rise of totalitarianism; for Cuaron, the degeneration of environmental and population problems.

The Peasant Prince (picture book) by Li Cunxin

Prescribed Text: Billy Elliot

The stories of Billy Elliot and The Peasant Prince are notably similar. Billy Elliot is a young boy who overcomes impoverished conditions to become a dancer; the peasant prince undertakes a similar journey from poverty to a successful dancing career.

Where the two tales differ is the context. Billy Elliot is set in 1980s England, while The Peasant Prince details the childhood of Li Cunxin in Maoist China.

The common ground of the rags to riches story, and the thematic exploration of hope depicted through the visual elements of film (Billy Elliot) and illustrated narration (The Peasant Prince) make these two texts perfect for comparison.

Remember

If you’ve got a related text you’d love to use, which matches perfectly with your prescribed text, by all means, stick to that. If you don’t, then be sure to go through our suggestions, do some research and pick whether or not you think it’s the right related text for you. And if you do end up going with one of our suggestions you won’t be disappointed!

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