Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Beggars of Britain Essay

Choose a non-fiction text which takes a strong stance on a social issue. Show how the writer makes you aware of his/her strength of feeling on the subject and discuss to what extent you were able to agree.

In his article “Beggars of Britain” Tony Parsons displays a strong stance against the social issue of begging. Parsons makes readers aware of his strength of feeling on this subject through language use, tone, ideas, a personal anecdote, point of view and use of evidence. Readers are left feeling influenced by Parsons’ strong stance and cannot help but agree on some level with him.

The initial indication of Parson’s strong stance against this social problem is the alliterative quality of the title – “Beggars of Britain”. Parsons’ point of view is shown through the harsh, unpleasant sound of the title which sets the tone for his opinion which is to follow. The repetition of “beggars” in the opening sentences also makes the readers aware of this subject matter. The unpleasant imagery which is created in the opening paragraph by the mention of “beggars stinking of cheap lager with snot on their chin and a mangy mutt on the end of a piece of string” also shows Parsons disgust of beggars. This image becomes a motif and through this Parsons creates a constant reminder of his strength of feeling against beggars. Even after reading simply the first few sentences readers are left fully aware of Parsons’ stance on this social issue. However, at this point in the article readers are unsure of whether to agree with Parsons’ view as it seems unnecessarily harsh with no real explanation why.

As the article continues Parsons’ complete disapproval of begging is further displayed by his use of language such as: “cheap lager”. This is condescending and therefore suggests that Parsons feels he is superior to the beggars. However, through Parsons’ use of a minor sentence – “Lots of them” the magnitude of the social issue of begging is emphasised. Readers begin to feel a sense of understanding for Parsons’ point of view and can start to agree with his opinion on some level.

Parsons also uses extremely explicit language to show his sheer hatred for the beggars: “obese hag”. This explicit language makes readers fully aware of Parsons’ strong social stance on begging, as does the shocking language that Parsons uses throughout the article: “shagged”. When Parsons displays his point of view that these beggars “look like they could run a four minute mile” readers begin to partially agree with Parsons’ negative view of beggars as they too feel that many beggars could get a job if they only tried.

Parsons’ ideas in the article display his feelings on the subject of begging. Parsons feels that beggars “will be with us forever now” like a plague and therefore his hatred of this issue is shown. Parsons’ main idea that “They have no shame” is very explicit and also shows his strong feelings of beggars. Readers can agree with Parsons when he states: “beggars where you live”. This engages readers as it suggests that begging happens all around and readers therefore agree with Parsons as they too feel that begging infects the places where they live.

Through Parsons’ continuous use of “ponce” his hatred of beggars is further displayed. The feminine connotations of this word show that Parsons considers beggars actions as not worthy. Parsons use of “Uriah Heep” as evidence, making reference to another text, shows a comparison between this character, the embodiment of misery, and beggars. It is clearly seen through this use of evidence that Parsons despises beggars, and by his use of a famous character readers gain a better understanding of his point of view and therefore agree with him more. Parsons’ use of harsh, alliterative language is continued throughout the article by his use of swear words: “shoebox full of shit”. This harsh language also shows his obvious disgust at beggars.

Parsons’ point of view that “The British have become a nation of nappy-wearers” is offensive and through this his feeling of beggars is further shown. By this statement Parsons is looking at the nation as a group and as being unable to do things for themselves. Therefore, at this point, readers do not agree with Parsons’ stance as they too are being included in his criticising and this statement seems too harsh.

During the article Parsons uses “American Psycho” as evidence to make readers aware of his strength of feeling of beggars. His use of this film shows that he feels in a similar way to Bateman, “the American psycho himself”, who is disgusted by beggars: “They inspire nausea and disgust in Bateman”. Parsons’ view that this is “perfectly credible” shows readers that he agrees with Bateman’s opinion of beggars. Although readers do agree on some level with Parsons opinion of beggars, Parsons’ use of this film to display his opinion is rather disturbing, and readers do not agree completely with Parsons and do not feel hatred this strong for beggars.

Parsons’ strong stance on begging is shown further when he uses sarcasm as a weapon: “no home, no job, no shame”. Parsons’ personal slant is epitomised with this comment, making his highly negative view of beggars obvious. Parsons further criticises beggars through his use of a harsh, mocking tone: “everybody knows you are going to piss it away”. Both of these comments are very tough on beggars and show clearly Parsons’ extremely strong opinion of this social issue. Parsons’ forthright point of view that “I don’t buy it” further reinforces this and harsh as his opinions may be, readers cannot help but admit that these thoughts have entered their mind on occasion.

Parsons’ use of a personal anecdote describing when he “used to give” is another technique which the write uses to make readers fully aware of his strong stance on beggars. His claims that “the people disgusted” him shows how he previously felt conditioned to give to beggars. Parsons’ feelings that his “concern has simply been exhausted” shows how he now refuses to be made to feel guilty. Parsons’ veracity is to be admired by readers as they can relate to being forced into giving to beggars. Readers at this point really agree with Parsons as they can understand his hatred of beggars – they too have been conditioned into giving. Although readers do not hate beggars quite to the extent that Parsons does, they have been influenced into having negative opinions too.

When Parsons simply puts his point of view across that he has “grown to truly hate them” his sheer hatred of beggars reaches its plateau. Parsons’ strong stance against beggars is further shown by the language use: “professional leeches”. Through this metaphor Parsons suggests that beggars suck away money from people. This unpleasant image displays Parsons’ unpleasant view of beggars. Readers agree with Parsons’ hatred at this point as although his view of beggars is cruel, he does acknowledge that there are some people who genuinely need to beg, those in Africa “with deformed legs crawling”.

In conclusion, in Tony Parsons’ article “Beggars of Britain” the writer makes his strong stance against begging clear to readers. Through language use, tone, ideas, a personal anecdote, point of view and use of evidence Parsons’ strength of feeling is made aware to readers. Although readers do find Parsons’ view of begging harsh they cannot help but agree with his negative view of begging to some extent as they too just expect beggars to waste their donations away. Readers completely agree with Parsons’ advice to “walk past them” and it cannot be denied that we too have, and do, say “No change, we say, no change”.


1 comment:

Chris said...

Gosh - bit of a shock to the senses, this new format!
Oddly enough, I've just been going over this piece of writing, so for once I know the text.
I'll quote and comment on the most obvious points.
Parsons makes readers aware of his strength of feeling on this subject through language use, tone,...
- try not to say "through language use". Obviously he uses language. Qualify slightly - perhaps say "through his use of demotic language and informal register".

What about all the repetition in the piece - especially in the opening section?

Parsons also uses extremely explicit language to show his sheer hatred for the beggars: “obese hag”. ...
- Why are you just pasting that quote in? You need to provide a context and a comment - Full stop after 'beggars'. then: 'He describes a gypsy beggar as an "obese hag", leaving us in no doubt as to her size, which he despises, and her ugliness.'

shocking language that Parsons uses throughout the article: “shagged” ...
- here you are doing it again! Don't stick on random quotes without embedding them and giving a context for them!

Parsons feels that beggars “will be with us forever now” like a plague and therefore his hatred of this issue is shown....
- I'd prefer to see you use active verbs - "he shows his hatred' And is it an issue he hates, or an attitude?

You don't really explain Uriah Heep - a Dickens character who stands for ingratiating false humility. He went around claiming to be "ever so 'umble".

The final para I find unsatisfactory. You don't really say much that you haven't said already. Don't you find his attiude rather sickening by the end of the piece? That he rather overstates his case? he began by being amusing, but by the end he's overstayed his welcome, IMO. Stop talking about 'the reader' so much - that's YOU!

You haven't made any real attempt to consider the nature of this kind of writing - this chatty journalism is very common still (though you should realise that this was written in 1991 and is therefore pretty old hat). Step back and take another look at it - and don't feel you have to say it's wonderful all the way.