Writing a response

When writing an essay about your interpretation of, or response to, a poem, you should consider the points below.

Essay-writing tips

  • Write a plan first, noting what you'll include in each paragraph.
  • Begin with a brief overview of the poem.
  • Go on to mention themes, form, structure, rhythm and language.
  • Mention a range of views or perspectives.
  • Compare the poem to another one.
  • Mention any relevant details about the context of the poem.
  • Conclude with a firm judgement about the poem.
  • Support all you say with details or quotes from the poem.

Key words

A good approach to begin with is to highlight any key words which stand out for you. Make sure you use these key words in your essay.

Essay planning

How does Emily Brontë make her message clear in Love and Friendship?


  • Overview: the poem tells us that friendship is more constant than romantic love.
  • Extended metaphors: friendship is compared to a holly-tree that is green all year round, while romantic love is a ‘wild briar-rose’ that blooms in spring and summer and fades in winter.
  • Structure and language: its simplicity, use of quatrains, turning point in second stanza, developing rhyme scheme and rhythm.
  • Reader’s reactions: different views, what message might be taken from reading the poem?
  • Conclusion: there is a definite message that friendship will last, but the poet also celebrates the wild beauty of romantic love.

Some other essay questions to think about:

  • How does Emily Brontë present friendship in Love and Friendship?
  • Brontë uses Love and Friendship to warn about the fleeting nature of love. Compare her approach to that used by John Keats in the poem Bright Star

More about planning an essay.