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Edward Britton Vs A Bridge To Wiseman's Cove - With A Free Essay Review

Representations of teenagers in literature can affect how teens see themselves and how others see them. Having a novel that accurately portrays teens attracts more readers as they can easily sympathize with the characters and the plot line. Teenage literature uses a wide variety of themes to appeal to a broader range of audiences. These themes include bullying, familiar struggle, and identity issues. The books A Bridge to Wisemans Cove by James Moloney and Edward Britton by Gary Crew and Philip Neilsen both portray teenage thinking in entirely different situations. A Bridge to Wiseman’s Cove is the novel that represents modern teenagers most accurately in far more realistic situations, so this novel is the best choice for students to read in year 10.

Edward Britton focuses largely on the lives of two teenagers transported to Point Puer in Australia as convicts in the 1830s. The story is about Edward Britton and Izod Wolfe.

The complication in the plot materializes when this Sergeant Buckridge, who Wolfe hates with a passion, is appointed overseer of Point Puer. He arrives with his wife and his beautiful daughter, Susan, with whom Edward rapidly falls in love. Hecht, who was extremely jealous of Edward, finds out about this, so he pays Izod to steal Susan’s diary. Hecht then spreads rumours about Edward ‘raping’ Susan, and so Buckridge has Edward publicly defamed. Hecht then blames Edward for stealing Susan’s diary. This meant that Edward would have to serve the full convict sentence at the adult prison of Port Arthur, which was exactly what Hecht wanted.

Izod had known nothing about Hecht’s intentions with the diary. He had always secretly admired Edward Britton, so he decided to stand up for him. He tells the crowd the truth, and then he shoots Buckridge in the head with a gun that he stole from Hecht.

A Bridge to Wiseman’s Cove follows the story of Carl as he transforms from an awkward teenager into a responsible young adult. Both storylines are extremely different, with both exploring different themes. A Bridge to Wiseman’s Cove has far more realistic situations that teenagers can easily relate to. It explores the themes of finding identity and ‘opening up’, which are situations that teenagers are faced with every day. Edward Britton is more about courage and love, which are also relevant themes, but are not realistic enough for teenagers. The fact that it is an historical book also adds to its irrelevancy to teenagers and typical teenage problems.

Both books have extremely memorable characters. A Bridge to Wiseman’s Cove follows the story of Carl’s transformation. He is a withdrawnyet he is extremely caring. This personality trait is evident in the selfless way he goes to work at the barge, not thinking about himself, but about Harley and how he might save him from his Aunt Beryl’s anger. The biggest thing that teenagers can relate to in Carl is his fears. His biggest fear is that no-one will love him. Society has always been centred on affection and people preferring someone over someone else. That is what happens in the ‘popular’ groups at school. The people that are a part of that group are being judged by how many people like them or prefer them. This aspect being added to the character the accurate representations of teenagers in the book. Carl also finds his identity in the end. Most teenagers these days are confused about what they are and who they want to be, so this factor also makes the book highly realistic and easily relatable. The only bad points about Carl is that even after his ‘transformation’ at the end of the novel, he is still a bit shy and self-conscious, and that he can be too selfless sometimes.

Edward Britton also has extremely notable characters, the most notable of them being, I believe, Izod Wolfe. Hatred is his only motivation. It is evident in the book that he is quite devoted to his task – attaining his revenge on Buckridge – and he is also extremely courageous. His courage is showed by the fact that even though he was birched in front of everyone by Buckridge, he didn’t cry or curse or plead. He endured the pain without any emotions showing on his face. Although one may argue that getting so much motivation from hate is unwholesome, you can see how passionate he is. The reader can’t really blame him – Buckridge killed his family. His persistence is evident through the multiple attempts to kill Buckridge slowly. Even though this character is showing a lot of courage and resilience, it is not something that modern teenagers can rally relate to because not only is trying to murder someone immoral, it also something that of course most people would not do. But readers can still sympathize with his sad life story and the amount of passion he has for hate. At first, all that he thinks about is attaining his revenge, but in the end, he stands up to what is right and gives his life for a couple he had always admired. That is a big change in his attitude and shows his development, since, in the beginning of the novel, he wanted to be sneaky and to stay hidden. He is also extremely different from the character of Carl. While Carl is self-conscious and shy, Izod doesn’t care what other people think about him and gets on with his work. Again, this personality trait is extremely rare so it is not an accurate representation of teenagers. While both characters are extremely passionate about what they do, Carl is self-conscious while Izod doesn’t care what other people think about him. Carl is a far more accurate representation of today’s teenagers – a bit self-conscious and just wanting be loved. His personality makes him seem more real and easier to sympathise with.

Both stories are set in Australia, but Edward Britton is set in a penal colony while a Bridge to Wiseman’s Cove is set in a quiet beach town. A Bridge to Wiseman’s Cove is set in the present, which makes it easy for teenagers to relate to. Edward Britton does portray the horrors of the place and the time, but A Bridge to Wiseman’s Cove has a far more modern situation. The setting of the beach makes it real. In Edward Britton, the setting has a stronger influence than A Bridge to Wiseman’s Cove on the plot and the themes, for A Bridge to Wiseman’s Cove’s plotline can still retain most of its characteristics when the setting is changed. In Edward Britton, the story relies heavily on the setting as that is what it is largely based on. If the setting is changes, the story would not retain its original characteristics and it would not make sense. The setting is the situation that the characters are facing – prison –and so that influences the characters’ actions and thoughts. The setting also has a big time difference – with A Bridge to Wiseman’s Cove being the most modern – and so this also affects the representations of teenagers. A Bridge to Wiseman’s Cove again proves to be better since because of the time and the setting, it represents teenagers better.

Language is used proficiently in both novels – with A Bridge to Wiseman’s Cove having the most language features. Similes, metaphors and personification are widely used throughout the book.

The use of language and metaphors in the novel is strong, with many metaphors carrying a hidden message in relation to the novel. For example, the sentence “…A box on stumpy legs … [with] no separate chest or stomach, no waist or buttocks. Just flesh.” Describes Carl as being overweight in a far more subtle way than just ‘he’s overweight’. Moloney has used a wide variety of language techniques to provoke emotions and sympathies. The use of irony is also evident to convey the message. For example, Carl, in the end, ‘runs away’, to the Duncans, following the Matt custom. Even Sarah takes off, ironically behaving like the woman she never wanted to be like. Symbolism is also evident – with the osprey being the most prominent. It symbolises being ‘set free’, since Carl is too cooped up in his problems that he doesn’t let his emotions show, that he doesn’t know his full capability, and that his power is just caged up, ready to be freed. Another form of symbolism would perhaps be the rusty old barge itself, which may symbolise the barrier that has to be overcome.

In Edward Britton, the language is far more straightforward and to-the-point, and metaphors and personification are much scarcely used. Perhaps this is because the story has no moral to give, as such, as it is just an outdated story of convicts’ triumphs and suffering. A Bridge to Wiseman’s Cove has more of a message to convey – which is that of finding your identity, and that more people than you think love you. This message is also relevant to today’s teenage society, which again makes A Bridge to Wiseman’s Cove the better book of the two.

Determinately, A Bridge to Wiseman’s Cove would be a better read than Edward Britton for year tens. This is because the author uses his characters, the setting and the language features in such a way that makes the story seem real and easy to relate to. Even though Edward Britton has an impressive plot development, it would not be an accurate representation of teenagers since it is set in old times and the situation faced by the characters is unlikely to be faced by the teenagers of today.



Your essay makes the issue of the accuracy of the representation of teenagers the main criterion by which you judge which of the two novels is better for Year 10 students to read. That's not an unreasonable criterion, but it is also clearly not the only possible criterion, so unless it is raised explicitly in the assignment to which you are responding with this essay, it might be a good idea to justify the importance you give to it. You begin with a sentence about the effect of "representations of teenagers" on teenagers, so that might be a good place to elaborate your reasons for emphasizing the importance of accuracy. Alternatively (or in addition) you could spend more time discussing other criteria by which the relative merits of the novels could be judged. You raise, late in the essay, the question of the moral of the novels, which seems like it might also be a reasonable criterion for judging the two novels, but you treat the issue only briefly, and primarily, again, with a view to underscoring your claim about the greater relevance of A Bridge to Wiseman's Cove. It seems that in the essay "relevance" is more or less synonymous with "accuracy of representation of teenagers," the assumption apparently being that teenagers will not find anything that does not represent them accurately relevant. I don't think that assumption is valid (it's certainly not explicitly justified in the essay), but I've already forgotten almost everything I thought I once knew about teenagers, so I may be wrong! (But could one not argue, for the sake of argument, that teenagers, like everybody else, are interested in, and relate to, things and characters that obviously are not intended to be representative: the mythical, the fantastic, the grotesque, even the sadistic?)

On the one hand, despite the fact that you are talking about several different elements of the two novels (theme, character, setting, language, moral), your focus on the question of relevance allows you to retain some unity of purpose throughout the essay. That’s a characteristic of good essays, so whatever revisions of your essay you undertake, you should try to ensure that essay continues to have an overall, unified purpose. On the other hand, that focus forces you, I think, to discuss some of these elements of the novels in a fairly reductive way. When you discuss character, for instance, the important thing for your essay is not how complex or interesting a character is, how much the character develops, how the development of the character is integrated with the unfolding of the novel's themes, and ultimately how much we can learn from the character - it’s not, in short, all the things that we would typically consider when making a determination of the _literary_ value of a work - but rather how easy it is for a teenage reader to relate to or sympathise with the character. That is not to say that your essay is oblivious to the development of character or the relation between character and thematic development, but only that your essay doesn't elaborate such questions and that its interest in them is tangential to the professed purpose (deciding the question of relevance) of discussing character in the first place. The same point, roughly speaking, could be made about the other elements of the novels that you discuss.

Your paragraphs on language are perhaps the least compelling paragraphs in the essay. You seem to struggle there to make them relevant to your overall argument. If you get excited by rhetorical language, and find more of it in A Bridge to Wiseman's Cove, then you might be able to argue that the book is a more interesting read than Edward Britton, but I don't understand how you can claim that rhetorical language is little used in Edward Britton "perhaps because the story as no moral to give, as such." I've never read a story I couldn't have squeezed some moral or other out of, if I were interested in morals, but in any case I don't see (and you don't clarify) the possible relationship between the dearth of figurative language and the lack of a moral. Your paragraph on language in A Bridge to Wiseman's Cove, for its part, is very vague about how rhetorical language relates to either a moral or a meaning.

Ultimately, I think what the essay lacks mostly, is a clear articulation of the meaning of these novels. You say that Edward Britton doesn't really have one (which seems like skirting the issue to me) and while you do say that A Bridge to Wiseman Cove is about "finding identity," you don't really clarify what it has to say about that, and why it is an issue to which teenagers especially can relate. Is it your idea that teenagers wander about with a fragmented sense of their own identity, and that A Bridge to Wiseman Cove might gave teenagers an idea about what the process of finding one's proper identity might look like? A little bit of textual analysis might go a long way towards clarifying your thinking on these issues.

Best, EJ.
Submitted by: sushiushi


The assignment asked specifically for my essay to tell the reader which of the books provide an accurate representation of teenagers, by judging them by the way the author uses language, the character's personality developement, and the setting.
And thanks for the feedback!
March,22 2012


Ah, well I'm I glad I didn't know that, or I'd have had much less to complain about! I hope some of the comments were of some interest to you in any case.
March,26 2012

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