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IGCSE King Schahriar Model Essays Question 05

IGCSE King Schahriar Model Essays Question 05

Edexcel English IGCSE: King Schahriar and his brother

Q5. How does the story of ‘King Schahriar and his brother’ hold the interest of the reader?

In your answer, you should think about:

  • the transformation of King Schahriar;
  • the character of Sheherazade;
  • the actions taken by Sheherazade;
  • the writer’s use of language.

You should refer closely to the passage to support your answer. You may use brief quotations.

Edexcel English IGCSE Model Essay by an Expert

Because of the fascinating characters and terrible events of the story, this story successfully holds the interest of the reader. There is a build-up of tension throughout the plot.

The first pointsof interest in the story is the dramatic transformation of King Schahriar’s character. At first, he seems to be benevolent and generous, as reflected in the use of superlatives and hyperbole to describe his treatment of his wife: “loved more than all the world”, “finest dresses” and “most beautiful jewels”. However, the reader undergoes a complete change in perception when the king turns from kind to unimaginably cruel after learning of his wife’s deceitfulness. The reader’s sympathy shifts from the betrayed king to his innocent victims. The author creates this shift with emotive imagery to show the terrible effects on the townspeople. The sense of sound and sight are evoked in the images of the town, where “nothing was heard but cries and lamentations” and where parents are “weeping” and “trembling for the fate” of their children.

Scheherazade is also a very interesting character for the reader, since she challenges the expectations for women at the time. Because of the patriarchal society in which the story is set, we expect her to be meek and obedient. However, she is strong and determined, and stands up to authority. She is able to overcome the will of her father, despite his initial assertion that he would “never consent”. Her power over him is expressed almost in physical terms, as he was “yielding to her” and was consequently “bowed down with grief”. This creates an interesting incongruity between the powerlessness of the women in the society, who are killed daily, and Sheherazade’s strength. It piques the reader’s interest to see what she will do next.

Sheherazade’s brave actions create a great deal of tension in the story, which is exciting for the reader. She requests to be married to the king, which will surely result in her swift death. Her father understandably reacts with panic, expressed by his emotive language (“plunge a dagger in your heart”), exclamations, questions and alliteration (“still so obstinate”). Sheherazade’s contrasting composure creates tension because the reader cannot comprehend why she is so calm. Tension is built throughout her interactions with the king, because the reader is aware of how close she is to death. He follows her requests up to the end of the story, creating exciting releases of tension each time, but the story ends with unresolved tension, as the reader does not know if Sheherazade will be ultimately successful in her aim of stopping the king’s “barbarous practice”.

In its original context, this story needed to be exciting and interesting, because it is the introduction to a long collection of stories. This set-up makes the reader keen to read on, to find out what stories Sheherazade will tell the king, and whether they will change his ways.

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IGCSE King Schahriar Model Essays Question 04

IGCSE King Schahriar Model Essays Question 04

Edexcel English IGCSE: King Schahriar and his brother

Q4. Discuss the presentation of Sultan Schahriar in the story.

In your answer, you should think about:

  • the sultan before the death of his wife;
  • the sultan’s behaviour after the death of his wife;
  • the extent of his power;
  • the writer’s use of language.

You should refer closely to the passage to support your answer. You may use brief quotations.

Edexcel English IGCSE Model Essay by an Expert

Sultan Schahriar begins as a good, benevolent king, but becomes twisted and angry when his wife betrays him. The story teaches a lesson about the danger of absolute power.

Before he discovers his wife’s deceitfulness, the king is portrayed as good and kind. He is upset that he cannot share his kingdom with his brother, and in an act of generosity, he gives him an entire country. The use of hyperbole and superlatives express the opulence and munificence with which he treats his wife: “loved more than all the world”, “greatest happiness”, “finest dresses” and “most beautiful jewels”. However, the author uses foreshadowing techniques to suggest that this period of peace and happiness will be short-lived; the use of vocabulary such as “grief” and “cut off” hints at future misery and violence.

The king’s character changes from kind to cruel when he discovers his wife’s duplicity. He is both sad and humiliated – he experiences “the deepest shame” – which perhaps explains the disproportionality of the punishment. He has his wife killed. The author ambiguously suggests that he goes almost mad because of the “blow”. This could refer to the emotional blow of learning that his wife was unfaithful, or to the physical blow which killed her. The king’s misogyny prompts him to extend this punishment to all women, as he fails to see women as autonomous individuals. He decides that “all women were as wicked as the sultana”; the alliteration in this phrase shows how inextricably linked he now considers women and wickedness to be. His new rule of marrying and killing a new wife every day is horrifying; the author encourages the reader to pity the victims with emotive language, such as with the agony evoked by the word “strangled”.

The king has absolute power in this story, which is extremely problematic. When he learns that he cannot share his kingdom with his brother, King Schahriar breaks the “laws of the empire” by giving his brother a country anyway. Although this is an act of love, it foreshadows the lack of regulation on his policies once his motives change from love to hate. Because of his absolute power, the king is able to implement the horrifying practice of murdering young women, and it seems that nobody is able to challenge him. Even the grand-vizier, who has a relatively powerful position in the kingdom, sees “no escape” from his terrible task of finding young wives for the king. Until Sheherazade decides to take action against the king, it seems that nobody is able to stop the king’s terrible actions.

This story highlights the dangers of leaders with absolute power. Although the ability to break and bend the rules can be relatively harmless when a leader is benevolent, this can turn into tyranny if the leader decides to use their power in an evil way.

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IGCSE King Schahriar Model Essays Question 03

IGCSE King Schahriar Model Essays Question 03

Edexcel English IGCSE: King Schahriar and his brother

Q3. Explore the presentation of women in ‘King Schahriar and his brother’.

In your answer, you should think about:

  • the sultan’s attitude towards women;
  • the character of Sheherazade;
  • other descriptions of women in the passage;
  • the writer’s use of language.

You should refer closely to the passage to support your answer. You may use brief quotations.

Edexcel English IGCSE Model Essay by an Expert

The women in the story of ‘King Schahriar and his brother’ are experiencing the ultimate oppression by the king. However, with the formidable combination of Sheherazade’s intelligence and her sister’s loyalty, it is possible that the women will be delivered from their terrible fate.

The story involves an all-powerful and misogynistic leader, creating a terrifying situation for the women under his leadership. The king fails to recognise that women are individuals, and thus decides to punish all women for his wife’s actions. His new wives are described as “fresh”: a word commonly used to describe food, particularly meat. Thus women are not seen as human individuals, but as objects to be enjoyed and then discarded by the king. The king’s new policy is based on misogyny: he experiences “deepest shame” when he learns that his wife has been unfaithful. The word “shame” implies humiliation rather than sorrow, and the superlative shows the extent of this embarrassment.. Thus his policy of killing young women may be based on his need to feel power over all other women in the kingdom, to exert his authority and heal his wounded pride.

In her views and her actions, Sheherazade challenges this misogynistic arrangement. The rest of the society react to the policy with sorrow and fear, which is captured in the sensory imagery of parents “weeping” and “trembling”, and the town filled with “cries and lamentations”. In contrast, Sheherazade is angry, calling the practice “barbarous”, which is emotive vocabulary highlighting the king’s inhumanity. This anger prompts her to take action against the king. This is in stark contrast to her father, who is unquestioningly obedient to the king, which he explains in very simple and direct terms: “Whatever the cost, I will obey you.” Sheherazade’s willingness to stand up to authority – both the king and her father – challenges expectations of women at the time.

The relationship between Sherherazade and Dinazade confirms the idea that only women are brave enough to change the king’s ways. Contrasting the grand-vizier’s alarm and doubt in reaction to Sheherazade’s plan, Dinarzade gives unquestioning support to her sister. She even says that she will take part in the plan “with pleasure”, even though her life could be at risk by agreeing to help. This is despite the fact that Dinarzade is described as having “no particular gifts”. Simply by trusting in her sister, Dinarzade can play an important role in rescuing the women of the town. When the plan is taking place, Dinarzade does “as she had promised”, displaying her reliability and the solid teamwork between the two women.

In a society where women are oppressed and murdered, it takes two young women to finally stand up to their tyrannical leader. The presentation of women in the story challenges the reader’s expectations and the expectations of those in the story.

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IGCSE King Schahriar Model Essays Question 02

IGCSE King Schahriar Model Essays Question 02

Edexcel English IGCSE: King Schahriar and his brother

Q2. How is the character of Sheherazade presented in ‘King Schahriar and his brother’?

In your answer, consider:

  • her relationship with her father;
  • the portrayal of women in the rest of the story;
  • her behaviour towards the sultan;
  • the use of language.

You should refer closely to the passage to support your answer. You may use brief quotations.

Edexcel English IGCSE Model Essay by an Expert

Sheherazade is a surprising character in ‘King Schahriar and his brother’. In a society clearly dominated by men, in which women are expected to be meek and obedient, she is strong and stands up for what she believes in.

Although Sheherazade has a good relationship with her father, she is able to stand up to him. She is described as her father’s “delight and pride”; the assonance in this phrase creates an open tone, suggesting happiness and joy. She is also polite, referring to him as “my father”, and respectfully asking for him to marry her to the sultan. Despite initially saying that he will “never consent” to this, Sheherazade’s composure and determination causes him to give in. This is described strikingly in almost physical terms: he was “yielding to her” and was physically “bowed down with grief” as a result. This makes Sheherazade seem more powerful than her father.

Sheherazade’s strength is particularly striking in the context of the patriarchal society of the time. Particularly under the king’s new barbaric policy, women are not seen as individuals: he believes that all women are as wicked as his wife, and the wives are described as “fresh”, as if they are pieces of meat to be enjoyed and discarded. Sheherazade’s language when describing her intentions makes her seem like a soldier or saviour, who will “deliver” the women of the town. The soldierly language, such as my death will be a glorious one” and “great service to my country”, is more traditionally associated with masculinity. She is the only person who is willing to stand up to the king and challenge his murderous ways. This challenges our expectations of women, and makes us even more impressed with Sheherazade’s bravery.

Disgusted by the king’s policy of marrying and murdering women, Sheherazade is determined to do something about it. She describes his actions as “barbarous”, which is very emotive; it has connotations of uneducated, uncivilised action, which is in stark contrast to his kingly heritage. As an extremely intelligent woman who has received the best education possible, Sheherazade comes up with a plan to stop the king. The plan involves making use of stereotypically feminine traits, which again challenges our expectations of women and femininity. She fakes emotional vulnerability, thus tricking the king into following her demands of having her sister with her and being able to tell a story. It shows that she is able to outsmart the king, who is concerned when he sees “her eyes full of tears”.

The strength of Sheherazade’s determination is a striking element of her character. She is an unusual heroine because of her femininity, but this gives her the unique advantage of being able to manipulate and outwit the king, who underestimates her intelligence.

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IGCSE King Schahriar Model Essays Question 01

IGCSE King Schahriar Model Essays Question 01

Edexcel English IGCSE: King Schahriar and his brother

Q1. In ‘King Schahriar and his brother’, how does the writer create tension?

In your answer, you should consider:

  • King Schahriar’s practice of having women killed;
  • the actions of Sheherazade;
  • the end of the passage;
  • the writer’s use of language.

You should refer closely to the passage to support your answer. You may use brief quotations.

Edexcel English IGCSE Model Essay by an Expert

The story of ‘King Schahriar and his brother’ is extremely tense. There is tension in the reader’s attitudes to the characters, and in concern about what will happen to the heroine, Sheherazade.

The author creates tension in the actions of King Schahriar. Initially, the reader expects him to be good and kind; he is generous to his brother and his wife. However, there is slight tension in the vocabulary used to describe him – such as “grief” and “cut off” – foreshadowing the later violent events. When we learn about his new barbaric practice, the reader’s sympathy turns to horror. The author uses emotive language to elicit sympathy for the victims instead of him: the phrase “every day saw a girl married and a wife dead” powerfully shows the tragedy of the girls’ premature deaths. There is also tension as families wonder if their daughter will be the next to die. This is captured in the image of the mother “trembling for the fate of her child”.

The actions of Sheherazade also create tension in the story. The extended description of her many qualities creates tension in itself, because the reader knows that she is at risk of being murdered by the king. This tension is heightened even further when she actually requests to be married to the king. There is tension between her intelligence and bravery (highlighted by the alliteration in “clever and courageous”), and her inconceivable actions. Sheherazade’s manner is also in tension with our expectations of female characters in the patriarchal society in which this story is set. We expect her to be meek and emotional, but instead she is confident and brave: like a soldier, she wants to pay “a great service to [her] country”. This challenges our expectations of women.

The reader is encouraged to like and respect Sheherazade, and this creates tension when we are unsure whether she will succeed in her plan. When she describes her plan to her sister, she uses conditional structures with words such as “hope” and “if”. This shows that her plan is not certain to succeed, and if it fails, she will die. The plan also involves ‘begging’ the king; the plan thus depends on the kindness of the king, of whose cruelty we are well aware. The plan is successful, but the story ends with ultimate tension, as the reader is left unaware of whether she will be successful in ending the king’s murderous ways.

This story gradually builds tension throughout, and this tension is left unresolved at the end of the story. In the original context, this would have encouraged the reader to continue through the rest of the stories in the collection, hoping to find out about Sheherazade’s fate.

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