Until very recently, there was a lack of resources available for those who needed to compare and contrast Yousafzai’s memoir “I am Malala” with Warchus’ film “Pride” . Even though the internet is full of information, it can still be a challenge even for the most experienced writer. To help you prepare for the end of year, we have written a sample essay to illustrate how ideas about the two texts can be organised and articulated. We really hope you find this helpful for your studies!
Sample Essay 1: Identity and Honesty
“Sometimes it’s better to tell your own story.” How do I Am Malala and Pride demonstrate that is important to be honest about who you are, even when it is difficult?
Malala Yousafzai’s memoir I Am Malala and Matthew Warchus’ film Pride documents the lives of individuals who suffer due to the marginalization of their identities. Although Yousafzai defines being honest about who you are as being outspoken about your principles, while for Warchus it is defined as being open about sexual identity, both texts provoke reflection on how certain societies punish individuality and identity. Nonetheless, both texts also show the importance of being true to oneself to become a role model for those inhibited by fear, and to benefit society at large.
- Clearly outline your arguments to improve the flow and coherence of your essay.
- Focus on what the authors are doing, rather than what happened in the texts.
Body Paragraph 1:
Yousafzai and Warchus both aim to educate their readership and audience on the painful ostracization of individuals who wish to express themselves truthfully. In I Am Malala this not only means that women are marginalized for their womanhood but also for their outspokenness and expression of identity. Yousafzai provides the anecdote of Shabana, a young dancer who is killed by extremists, to illustrate this. The auditory imagery of the “shots” and the “screaming” evokes to the reader the brutal reality of living in an authoritarian environment where freedom of expression, such as the act of dancing, is punished. The onomatopoeia of the “chop chop” and “drip drip” of the chicken heads also alludes to the Taliban’s practices of beheading and foreshadows Yousafzai’s own assassination attempt for speaking out. This illustration of a harsh, punishing society is also evident in Pride, where the director visualizes the LGBT community’s suffering in 1980s Britain. The mise-en-scene of the word ‘queer’ spray painted the bookshop window epitomizes this. In addition to the slur, the red paint evokes connotations of blood, and symbolizes the physical violence faced by people such as Gethin, who is later assaulted for his sexual identity. The harshness of the homophobic British society is also heavily implied in the wide-angle shots of the cold, winter landscape Gethin travels through to reach his mother, with the journey itself symbolic of the struggle to remain true to oneself in a society which prejudices against sexual minorities. While Warchus focuses on sexual identity, and Yousafzai on women’s freedom of expression, both Pride and I Am Malala thus emphasise the difficulty of revealing one’s true self to the world.
Most 9-10/10 essays will focus on linguistic features and literary devices rather than the plot and characters. Some language techniques discussed here include:
- Auditory Imagery
- Wide-angle shots
Body Paragraph 2:
Nonetheless, both texts demonstrate the importance of being open about who you are so as to become a role model for others. Malala’s act of writing her own speech, stating that “sometimes it’s better to tell your own story, from the heart rather than from a piece of paper” allows her to give voice to her own experiences, and thus inspire other women to do the same. Her refusal to let a male figure like her father write her speech according to tradition likewise allows her to educate her audience in the memoir on the female experience. This is perhaps why she states “I don’t feel it’s a story about me at all” in regards to her memoir, as by giving voice to her experiences the biography strives to empower women globally. Likewise, the personal actions of the LGSM within Onllwyn give courage and hope to those around them. The mise-en-scene of the gay couple kissing on the couch, with Cliff foregrounded and in the focal point, foreshadow his own coming out to Hefina. By remaining honest about their identities even in the initially hostile mining community, the members of LGSM unintentionally become role models for men like Cliff as he begins to see possibilities of his own acceptance within Gethin’ triumphant polysyndeton “I’m home. And I’m gay. And I’m Welsh!” Thus, Mark’s insistence on being “unapologetic” mirrors Malala’s sentiment in her belief that “it’s better to tell your own story,” as both tests illustrate how truthfulness in presentation can inspire those around you.
Body Paragraph 3:
At the macro level, both texts also suggest that being honest about one’s principles and identity benefits society at large; while in Pride these benefits consist of others overcoming their prejudices, in I Am Malala these benefits consist of supporting the powerless. Ziauddin’s characterization is central to illustrating this, as he educates Malala and her readership on the value of speaking out against others’ injustices. His literary allusion to the poem by Martin Niemoller “and then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me,” warns the reader of the dangers of remaining silent in times of others’ suffering. Similarly, he proclaims that “a state is like a mother, and a mother never deserts or cheats her children.” Here, the simile evokes a sense of responsibility, and the diction of “cheats” connotes a sense of dishonesty and betrayal. While the implied ‘deserter’ is the Pakistani government, the metaphor also calls on Pashtun activists around Ziauddin to not abandon their principles for fear of retribution. In contrast, the benefits of openness in Pride concretise in the miners’ overcoming of heteronormative values and prejudices. The mise-en-scene of Jonathan dancing at the Welfare illustrates the positive influence he leaves on the community by refusing to compromise his individuality. Whilst initially, his flamboyance and pride, juxtaposed with the lyrics “Shame Shame Shame” is met by disapproval, the reaction shots of the miners soon shift towards a more positive tone, and Gary’s statement “I want to learn how to dance” symbolizes his gradual abandonment of heteronormative values and prejudice towards the lesbian and gay community. Pride thus demonstrates that being open about one’s inherent identity leads to the positive normalization of such identities, and thus the overcoming of prejudice, whilst I Am Malala demonstrates that remaining honest and outspoken about one’s individual principles is key to eliminating injustice.
In conclusion, while I Am Malala and Pride define being honest about who one is in different ways, both texts similarly emphasise the importance of doing so. Despite the intense difficulty of being visible in a discriminatory society, Warchus and Yousafzai call on their audiences and readership to recognize how one must often accept this sacrifice to create positive change in society, whether that be overcoming prejudice in the case of Pride, or empowering the powerless in the case of I Am Malala.
Sample Essay 2: Social Expectations
Compare the ways in which characters in I Am Malala and Pride defy societal expectations.
Matthew Warhcus’ film Pride and Malala Yousafzai’s memoir I Am Malala both present narratives of individuals who strive for change by defying societal expectations. Despite the different social contexts, Britain in the 1980s and present-day Pakistan, both texts depict the ways in which individuals break free from tradition with the aid of their families. Furthermore, both Yousafzai and Warchus illustrate women defying patriarchal expectations by challenging notions of male dominance. However, whilst in ‘Pride’ expectations are overcome as a community, Yousafzai must take a more individual approach to challenging tradition, lacking widespread support from a community ridden by fear.
The Anatomy of an A+ Introduction:
- Central themes
- Social/historical contexts
- Clear arguments (written in the forms of similarities and differences)
- Articulate writing (create a balance between sophistication and simplicity)
- Coherent structure
Body Paragraph 1:
Both texts demonstrate that family may act as a support network and equip individuals with the courage to challenge traditions, albeit in different ways. Yousafzai emphasises her family’s role in shaping her views of society, specifically against patriarchal values. As Ziauddin’s daughter, Malala is given a “usual breakfast of sugar tea and…fried eggs,” whereby the “eggs” allude to Ziauddin’s own experiences as a child, as his sisters were given “only tea” and the sons “eggs.” In addition to elucidating Ziauddin’s egalitarian philosophy, the “eggs” also emblematise Malala’s access to opportunities such as education, which allow her to defy the patriarchal expectation of staying at home “hidden behind a curtain.” The notion of family as a source of encouragement to defy tradition also appears in Pride, although Warchus emphasises the importance of ‘found family’ in the absence of a biological one. Gethin is inhibited by his past trauma in a homophobic family and gains the courage to go to Dulais Valley only after Hevina’s comforting wishes of “Nadolig Llawen.” The Welsh saying for ‘Merry Christmas,’ coupled with a close-up shot of Hefina in her warm, decorated home, underscores the sense of belonging and family acceptance which in turn inspires Gethin to return to Wales and challenge the mining region’s prevalent conservative values. Likewise, Joe is able to abandon his biological family and openly defy heteronormative expectations with the help of the LGSM and Sian; the tracking shot of him leaving his home triumphantly symbolises the liberation is able to achieve through his support network, similarly to how Malala Yousafzai finds “courage again” through her father’s presence and guidance.
- Diverse use of verbs (e.g. allude, emblematise, inhibit, emphasise, underscore, challenge, symbolise)
- Demonstrate a great understanding of the “world of the text” and the messages the writer is presenting (e.g. egalitarian philosophy, homophobia, prevalent conservative values, heteronomative expectations)
- Discussion of metalanguage (e.g. symbolism)
Body Paragraph 2:
Furthermore, the women in both texts defy the patriarchal expectations prevalent in their societies by amplifying their own voices and challenging forces which suppress them. Madam Mayam in I Am Malala defies Fazullah’s ban on older girls’ education, stating “the secret school is our silent protest.” Despite the possibility of being “slaughtered,” a term which evokes to the reader the brutality engendered by an extreme patriarchal society, Malala’s classmates challenge privileged male access to education by continuing to go to school. Similarly, Sian in Pride is prompted by Jonathan to reject her predetermined role as a “mother” and “wife” by gaining an education and utilising her “first class mind.” Warchus also illustrates the women’s struggle towards inclusion in 1980s Britain through the diegetically sung feminist anthem “Bread and Roses.” The mise-en-scene of the women singing “give us bread but give us roses,” showcases to contemporary audiences how the Women Against Pit Closures defied the image of a silent, powerless wife by demanding “roses,” metaphorically representing female empowerment. Comparably, Yousafzai rewrites a “tapa” to state “whether or not the men are winning, the women will bring you honor.” The tapeys embody ancient and unchanged tradition, which Yousafzai directly challenges through the action of rewriting. Furthermore, like the song “Bread and Roses,” Yousafzai’s tapa is utilised to defend women’s place in the public sphere and in political movements.
- Insightful analysis of film techniques (e.g. diegetic music, mise-en-scene, metaphors)
- Discussion of key metaphors and symbols (e.g. roses, tapa, etc)
- Quotes embedded within the writing
- A focus on authorial intent
Body Paragraph 3:
However, the texts diverge in their approach to social change, as Pride overcomes traditional expectations as a community, while I Am Malala does so through individual action. The recurring motif of the clasped hands in Pride, symbolic of both political solidarity and personal friendship, communicate to audiences the importance of forging a community to achieve change. The miners’ arrival to the London Pride March of 1985 with the banner “Miners Support Lesbian and Gay” symbolises their reciprocity and their overcoming of homophobic prejudice thanks to their interactions with the LGSM, whose acronym is reversed in the banner to emphasise this relationship. In strong contrast, the extreme violence which characterises Pakistani society at the time of the Taliban inhibits Malala from mobilising her whole community against authority. This violence is portrayed by the “chop chop” of the chicken heads, where the onomatopoeia alludes to the beheadings by the Taliban against those who defy their extremist religious doctrine, the Sharia law. Yousafzai also diverges from Warchus’ emphasis on collective action and claim that no “force is weaker than the feeble strength of one” by stating that “one child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.” The anaphora of “one” reinforces to the reader the belief that individuals can defy social expectations by becoming role models. Thus, Yousafzai and Warchus present different perspectives on defying tradition through collective and individual means.
In conclusion, I Am Malala and Pride portray marginalised individuals who reject their predetermined roles in society. Support from family, although defined in different ways by Warchus and Yousafzai, is presented as vital in inspiring defiance for the protagonists. Patriarchal duty is also challenged outspokenly in both texts, by women who reject their second-class status and diligently occupy the public sphere. Nonetheless, a key difference emerges due to the different contexts, as while Yousafzai stresses the power of individual rebellion, Warchus emphasizes the power of solidarity and collective action in battling prejudice.
Opening Sequence - Pride by Matthew Warchus
Based on the historical strike in 1984, Matthew Warchus’s comedy-drama “Pride” depicts the uneasy coalition between the British coal miners and the gay and lesbian activists. The director primarily aims to subvert the divisions of identity politics and cultural segregation, showing the audience how the clash between the Thatcher Government and the National Union of Mineworkers may bring two seemingly polar-opposite social demographics together. The film also foregrounds the unquestioned ideal of cross-cultural solidarity and criticises the deployment of police brutality and the homophobia that still exists within Britain. The story is told from a retrospective angle, wherein the narrative focuses on the character development of Joe. His period of liminality mirrors society’s progress; the progress of transitioning from a society pervaded by ubiquitous anti-gay sentiments to one of acceptance.
The anthem “solidarity forever” introduces the audience to the events taking place at the time with the historical montage contextualising the ideological clash between the miners and the Thatcher government, represented by the police dressed in uniform. From the outset of the film, the political conflict between these two groups is displayed through the director’s use of mise-en-scene placing them both into one frame. In putting the police in the background and the miners in the foreground, bunched up in a group, Warchus immediately presents the power dynamic between the them and how this balance seems to shift from frame to frame. In the screen-cap above, the brick wall seems to insulate the miners from the stern-looking policemen, though such barriers do not exist in the next frames which are dominated by the policemen instead, implying that they still hold greater power over the activists. This, coupled with the lyrics of the anthem, establishes the miners’ vulnerability to police harassment and thereby the need for “solidarity forever” since the mineworkers themselves will not be able to go against the government.
- Montage: film editing technique in which a series of short shots are sequenced to condense space, time, and information
- Mise-en-scene: the arrangement of the scenery, props, etc. on the stage of a theatrical production or on the set of a film.
- Frame: A frame is a single image of film or video
The characters’ mutual dislike for Thatcher’s government and the mine closure policy is established from the outset through both the wide-shot and close-up of the red banner captioned “Thatcher Out!”, standing prominent on the exterior of social housing flats. Here, the striking red colour of the banner helps display the bold and rebellious nature of the activists but also vilifies the Prime Minister for her purportedly unconscionable policies, compelling the audience to side with the activists from the beginning of the film. Compounding this with the diegetic sounds coming from Mark’s television discussing the authority’s “unprecedented violence” towards the miners, the director expresses his disdain for the ruling authority, establishing them as the antagonists of the film.
- Wide-shot: a shot that typically shows the entire object or human figure and is usually intended to place it in some relation to its surroundings
- Close-up: a type of shot that tightly frames a person or object
- Diegetic sounds: Diegetic sound is any sound that emanates from the story (or narrative) world of a film
To further exemplify his position against Margaret Thatcher’s “firm leadership”, Warchus uses a (quite unflattering) close-up shot of her facial expression to emphasise her gleaming eyes and feral smile as she rationalises the harm resulted from her policies. That she also associates the consideration of her people’s needs with being “a softie” also demonstrates her frigidity and dogmatism, further highlighting her complete disregard of the job losses and hardships the marginalised groups of Britain have to experience.
- Close-up: a type of shot that tightly frames a person or object
Introduction of Mark
As the news are being broadcasted, Mark’s eyes seem fixated on his television, rendering him completely unaware and unresponsive to the questions of the young man who appears to be his romantic partner. His appearance outside of his apartment complex is accompanied by fast-paced upbeat background music — perfectly aligns with the portrayal of him as a confident and charismatic leader. The communication he has with his neighbours further cements this, highlighting his dynamic personalities and his ability to form meaningful rapports with people around him.
- Background music: music to accompany the dialogue or action of a motion picture or radio or television drama
Introduction of Joe
While Mark is presented to live a free independent life in communal housing, Joe lives a completely different life in an archetypal suburban household. Through the wide-angle shot of the three almost identical adjacent houses, Marchus presents Joe’s familial setting as the microcosm of British community — seemingly detached and disconnected. The distance between Joe and his parents, especially his dad, is evident through the cutting between Joe’s appreciative but repressed “Thanks Dad” and his dad’s hand-wave and physical distance from Joe. Joe’s rushing out of the house is also contrasted with the image Mark’s calmly walking past a wall showing the letters to the film title “Pride”. Here, the stark juxtaposition between Joe and Mark depicts how a universal plight against someone may bind dissimilar characters together, fortifying the strength of unity and solidarity.
- Wide-angle shot: a shot that typically shows the entire object or human figure and is usually intended to place it in some relation to its surroundings
- Microcosm: a community, place, or situation regarded as encapsulating in miniature the characteristics of something much larger.
- Juxtaposition: a literary technique in which two or more ideas, places, characters, and their actions are placed side by side in a narrative or a poem, for the purpose of developing comparisons and contrasts.
Joe is a character that the audience can relate to. He embodies the struggles of disorientation and the difficulty of having to conceal his identity those around him. The film centralises around his transition from a repressed character to an openly gay young man who is able to break free from the fear of being judge and the toxic social stigmas.
The protests wherein the activists chant in unison also symbolise the unity between the activists, those who are brought together through a common goal. It is a symbol of communion. In dichotomising between the behaviour exhibited by the group of frustrated homophobic men on the pavement and how inclusive the activists are in greeting Joe, the director further demonstrates the strength of solidarity, insinuating that the only way they can combat against toxic social prejudice is through unity while also fostering the audience’s awareness of intersectionality. The participants’ inclusivity is also showcased through their assignment of “Bromley,” taken from the name of Joe’s hometown, as a new made-up nickname for Joe, signifying their acceptance of the protagonist and also the natural sense of camaraderie engendered between them.
The director denounces any forms of discrimination and prejudice, including violent homophobic confrontation and verbal harassment, though he does not completely demonise them. These instances are introduced through the perspectives of Joe, as the camera mimics his view and briefly pans through the reactions of bystanders. The men throwing rocks, the woman saying “Disgusting” directed at the protestors, and the stern-looking woman holding the “Burn in Hell” signage are all captured by the camera, but by opting to not grant them the close-up shots, the director portrays them as peripheral, undermining their bigoted views and shifting the audience’s focus to the parade and the messages on their banners instead. The naysayers are all framed as the enemy, but the director abstains from delving too much into their behaviour and instead propounds that their behaviours are the manifestation of society’s normalisation of ignorance and bigotry.
- Symbol: a literary device that contains several layers of meaning, often concealed at first sight, and is representative of several other aspects, concepts or traits than those that are visible in the literal translation alone.
- Dichotomise: divide into two opposing groups or kinds
- Intersectionality: The interconnected nature of social categorisations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage
- Panning: filming while rotating a camera on its vertical or horizontal axis in order to keep a moving person or object in view or allow the film to record a panorama.
- Close-up: a type of shot that tightly frames a person or object