General Vision and Viewpoint – an Introduction

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(Based on leavingcertenglish.net by E. O’Connor – ideas used with permission)

There are three main aspects to consider when approaching the GVV of texts.

Aspect 1

The writer’s/playwright’s/director’s view of the world and the human beings who live in it:

  • if their stories always have a happy ending
  • if the characters triumph over adversity
  • if true love conquers all
  • if good is rewarded and evil punished

Then the vision of the world they offer is positive and their viewpoint is optimistic.

Very few texts will be this straightforward however. Often bad things happen to good people in texts and the vision never stays the same the whole way through.

Aspect 2

This is something the writer cannot control – the way the reader/viewer responds to the vision they have created.

For example, a reader/viewer may not like romantic comedies. He may think they are formulaic, predictable, simplistic and sickly sweet. So even though the person who created it might want the reader to respond positively to the vision they are offering, the reader probably won’t.

Aspect 3

HOW the vision is communicated & HOW the mood and atmosphere is created: done through:

  • close-ups of facial expressions, camera angles
  • music, symbolism, imagery
  • flashbacks (to create nostalgia or to add back-story)
  • the hopes and dreams of the characters
  • the relationships between characters & how they treat each other
  • the success or failure of a character
  • the way the society is presented to us in a positive or negative light
  • the opening, closing scenes
  • the value placed on human life
  • a positive or negative vision of daily life
  • the moral vision presented in the text
  • the darkest/most uplifting moment in the text

 

The g v & v changes during the course of any text. One exercise with a class could be to draw up a graph (As done by Ms E. O’Connor here.) The vertical axis went from tragic at the bottom to blissfully happy at the top. The horizontal axis went from the beginning (on the left) to the end (on the right) of the text. Then pick eight key moments and plot them on the graph. This gives a clearer sense of how the g v & v changed, ebbed and flowed over the course of the text from beginning to end. However it is a little simplistic – you need to offer a more complex discussion than “happy/sad” (nostalgia, longing, frustration, injustice, tragedy, triumph, humour are all more specific words). AND you need to think about whether the author offers you a positive, warm and uplifting view of human beings or a deeply pessimistic indictment of human beings’ flaws and foibles. Think about the writer/director’s vision of the society the characters inhabit. What decisions has the writer/director made as to how the text begins and ends. Does the story begin and end at the same point (as in Babylon)? Have the characters achieved anything in the intervening period? Is the text a gradual journey towards enlightenment and self-fulfilment? Or does everything end badly, despite the characters best efforts to achieve happiness?

 

Because the concept is quite multi-faceted, try to simplify your overall essay structure.

  • Compare the beginning g v & v of each text.
  • Use 4 or 5 points from aspect three to form 4 or 5 main paragraphs for comparing the texts
  • Finally compare the g v & v of the endings.

 

Jumper-stripesAnd of course the most important thing is to tie them together just like a stripy jumper would be knitted. (One jumper represents one paragraph – this analogy is thanks to Ms E. O’Connor. More on that can be found here.)

Past exam questions on General Vision and Viewpoint

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2014

‘The extent to which a reader can relate an aspect of a text to his or her experience of life, helps to shape an understanding of the general vision and viewpoint of that text.’
Discuss this view in relation to your study of one text on your comparative course. [30]
With reference to the text you referred to in 1 (a) above and at least one other text from your comparative course, compare how two other aspects of the texts (excluding the aspect discussed in 1(a) above) influenced your understanding of the general vision and viewpoint of those texts. [40]

or

‘Significant events in texts and the impact they have on readers often help to clarify the general vision and viewpoint of those texts.’
With reference to three texts on your comparative course, compare the ways in which at least one significant event in each text, and its impact on you, helped to clarify the general vision and viewpoint of these texts. [70]

2012

‘The general vision and viewpoint of a text can be shaped by the reader’s attitude to a central character.’
Compare the extent to which your attitude to a central character helped shape your understanding of the general vision and viewpoint of at least two texts on your comparative course. [70]

or

‘Various aspects of texts can provoke a range of emotional responses in readers which aid the construction of the general vision and viewpoint.’
With reference to one text on your comparative course, what aspects of the text shaped your emotional response and helped you to construct the general vision and viewpoint of that text? [30]
With reference to two other texts on your comparative course, compare the aspects of these texts that shaped your emotional response and helped you to construct the general vision and viewpoint of these texts. [40]

2010

”The general vision and viewpoint of a text can be determined by the success or failure of a central character in his / her efforts to achieve fulfilment.’
In the light of the above statement, compare the general vision and viewpoint in at least two texts you have studied in your comparative course. [70]

or

How did you come to your understanding of the general vision and viewpoint in any one of the texts you read as part of your comparative course? [30]
Write a comparison between two other texts on your course in the light of your understanding of the general vision and viewpoint in those texts. [40]

2007

‘A reader’s understanding of the general vision and viewpoint in influenced by key moments in the text.’
Choose a key moment from one of your chosen texts and show how it influenced your understanding of the general vision and viewpoint. [30]
With reference to two other chosen texts compare the way in which key moments influence your understanding of the general vision and viewpoint of those texts. [40]

or

‘The general vision and viewpoint is shaped by the reader’s feeling of optimism or pessimism in reading the text.’
In light of the above statement, compare the general vision and viewpoint in at least two texts you have studied in your comparative course. [70]

2005

‘Each text we read presents us with an outlook on life that may be bright or dark, or a combination of brightness and darkness.’
In light of the above statement, compare the general vision and viewpoint in at least two texts you have studied in your comparative course. [70]

or

With reference to one of the texts you have studied in your comparative course, write a note on the general vision and viewpoint in the text and on how it is communicated to the reader. [30]
Compare the general vision and viewpoint in two other texts on your comparative course. Support the comparisons you make by reference to the texts. [40]

2003

‘The general vision and viewpoint of texts can be quite similar or very different.’
In the light of the above statement, compare the general vision and viewpoint in at least two texts on your comparative course. [70]

or

What did you enjoy about the exploration of the general vision and viewpoint in any one of the texts you read as part of your comparative study? Support your answer by reference to the text. [30]
Write a short comparison between two other texts from your course in the light of your answer to part (a) above. Support the comparisons you make by reference to the texts. [40]

General Vision and Viewpoint

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Here are some questions to ask yourself while revising General Vision and Viewpoint. Make notes on each of our three texts as you are looking at each question.

 

Is the text optimistic or pessimistic?

Is the text compassionate or dispassionate?

Does the text support or condemn certain actions / values / characters? What is its moral stance?

Is the text timebound or does it have relevance today?

What is your attitude to the characters and the dilemmas they face?

What vision of family life is embodied in the text?

What is the nature of the key relationships in the text?

How would you describe the treatment of women in the text?

What is the religious vision of the text? (Christian? Religious vision absent?)

Is its vision of life tragic or hopeful?

What is the vision of human nature in the text?

Is the author’s presentation of society positive or negative?

Is the author’s presentation of society accurate?

What serious or philosphical questions about life and morality are examined by the author?

What life experiences does the protagonist endure which help or hinder his development as a person?

What is your personal response to the general vision and viewpoint of the text?

Remember to incorporate quality linking sentences into your notes. Practice makes perfect!!