This English Language Paper 1 Micro Mock contains four questions that correspond with The Haunted Dolls’ House, a Victorian ghost story. Having a go at this exam-style micro paper will give you a clear idea of what to expect from the final exam.
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There is no “correct” way to approach an exam but we suggest that you begin by reading all the questions. Then carefully read the extract once and make notes for meaning, techniques and effect, before reading a second time and making notes on structure.
Extract from The Haunted Dolls’ House
In this short Victorian ghost story, an antiques dealer acquires a curious antique dolls’ house for a very low price, complete with a family of wooden dolls. The antiques dealer is startled awake by the toll of a bell.
|There was no striking clock within earshot—none on the|
staircase, none in the stable, none in the distant church
tower. Yet it is indubitable that Mr. Dillet was startled out
of a very pleasant slumber by a bell tolling One.
He was so much startled that he did not merely lie breathless
with wide-open eyes, but actually sat up in his bed.
He never asked himself, till the morning hours, how it was
that, though there was no light at all in the room, the Dolls’
House on the kneehole table stood out with complete
clearness. But it was so. The effect was that of a bright
harvest moon shining full on the front of a big white
stone mansion—a quarter of a mile away it might be,
and yet every detail was photographically sharp. There
were trees about it, too—trees rising behind the chapel
and the house. He seemed to be conscious of the scent
of a cool still September night. He thought he could hear an
occasional stamp and clink from the stables, as of horses
stirring. And with another shock he realized that, above
the house, he was looking, not at the wall of his room
with its pictures, but into the profound blue of a night sky.
There were lights, more than one, in the windows, and
he quickly saw that this was no four-roomed house
with a movable front, but one of many rooms, and
staircases—a real house, but seen as if through the
wrong end of a telescope. “You mean to show me
something,” he muttered to himself, and he gazed
earnestly on the lighted windows. They would in real
life have been shuttered or curtained, no doubt, he
thought; but, as it was, there was nothing to intercept
his view of what was being transacted inside the rooms.
Two rooms were lighted—one on the ground floor to
the right of the door, one upstairs, on the left—the first
brightly enough, the other rather dimly. The lower room
was the dining-room: a table was laid, but the meal
was over, and only wine and glasses were left on the
table. The man of the blue satin and the woman of the
brocade were alone in the room, and they were talking
very earnestly, seated close together at the table, their
elbows on it: every now and again stopping to listen, as it
seemed. Once he rose, came to the window and opened it
and put his head out and his hand to his ear. There was a
lighted taper in a silver candlestick on a sideboard. When
the man left the window he seemed to leave the room
also; and the lady, taper in hand, remained standing and
listening. The expression on her face was that of one
striving her utmost to keep down a fear that threatened
to master her—and succeeding. It was a hateful face, too;
broad, flat and sly. Now the man came back and she took
some small thing from him and hurried out of the room.
He, too, disappeared, but only for a moment or two. The
front door slowly opened and he stepped out and stood
on the top of the perron, looking this way and that; then
turned towards the upper window that was lighted, and
shook his fist.
kneehole: space for your legs
transacted: carried out/performed
brocade: a type of fancy fabric
perron: a set of stairs
List four details about the dolls’ house as described in the extract.
Recommended time: 5 minutes
Look in detail at lines 1 to 20 of the extract. How does the writer convey the narrator’s disbelief? Refer to:
- Use of words and phrases
- Language and methods
- Sentence form
Recommended time: 10 minutes
Now think about the whole of the extract; how has the writer structured the text to interest you and other readers?
- You may want to write about:
- Where your attention is focused at the beginning of the extract.
- How or why this focus is changed as the extract progresses.
- Any other structural features that you find interesting.
Recommended time: 10 minutes
Now take a look at line 21 to the end of the extract.
A student said ‘In this part of the extract, the narrator creates a sense of realism around the dolls in the house to unsettle the reader.’
To what extent do you agree? In your response, you could include:
- Your own impression of the behaviour of the dolls in the house.
- How the writer presents these behaviours.
- References from the text.
Recommend time: 20 minutes
It is not possible to reproduce AQA’s mark scheme, therefore on this mark scheme you will find the suggested content for each answer.
Suggested content is just that. Often, students come up with different and better interpretations of the text. Credit anything that is relevant and backed up by a quote from the text.
The best approach may be to use the suggested content along with the AQA mark scheme to be able to choose the band that best fits the answer.
QUESTION 1: 4 marks
Any four of the options below:
- It was made of white stone.
- There was a chapel next to it.
- There were trees outside it.
- There were stables.
- There were many rooms and staircases inside.
- It had lights.
- There were no shutters or curtains on the windows.
- There was a dining room with a table.
QUESTION 2: 8 marks
Possible content, but credit anything relevant:
- The use of the verb ‘startled’ to convey Mr Dillet’s fear at being awoken unexpectedly.
- The repetition of ‘startled’ to emphasise this fear and create a sense of unease.
- He ‘sat up in his bed’ conveying the urgency of his reaction – he was ready to defend himself if necessary.
- The repetition of the word ‘thought’ to create uncertainty around what he was seeing – questioning reality and creating confusion and bewilderment.
- Conveys his continued shock – ‘and with another shock’ – and disbelief, before he comes to the realisation that he has been transported into the dimension of the dolls’ house looking up at the sky.
- The ‘profound sky’ intensifies his disbelief. The pathetic fallacy portrays the sky as an entity.
QUESTION 3: 8 marks
Possible content, but credit anything relevant:
- At the beginning of the extract, the focus is on the vulnerable Mr Dillet in his bed at night. The idea of the emptiness surrounding the sleeping man is immediately juxtaposed with him being startled awake, creating a sense of fear and unease in the reader.
- The shift in focus to the dolls’ house indicates to the reader that it is the source of Mr Dillet’s fear with our attention being drawn into the moon – with spooky connotations as it is often associated with the horror genre.
- The sentence length in the opening paragraph adds to the bewilderment and confusion that Mr Dillet feels – almost like time has slowed down as he tries to make sense of what is happening.
- Rather than the structure zooming in on the action, Mr Dillet is physically moved into the scene as he realises he is gazing up at the sky rather than the walls of his bedroom – increased concern for his safety – what is going to happen next?
- The use of dialogue emphasises the unease – is Mr Dillet talking to himself or the house?
- In the final paragraph we witness the figures in the house moving around as though they are real humans – the focus rapidly switches from room to room creating a sense that Mr Dillet is running through the house.
- The scene in the dolls’ house zooms into an expression on one of the dolls’ faces, heightening the sense of fear as the human behaviour of the dolls is confirmed – they can imitate human life.
- The final long sentence once more slows down the pace of the extract as though reminding us that we are seeing it through the eyes of a bewildered and terrified Mr Dillet.
QUESTION 4: 20 marks
You must give your personal response to the extract. However, these are some of the points you may want to consider:
- When Mr Dillet thinks about what the windows of the house might look like ‘in real life’, it suggests to us that he is not considering any part of the house as realistic or life-like. If he knows the house isn’t representative of ‘real-life’ then it is likely he won’t suspend his belief when it comes to the inhabitants of the house.
- However, Mr Dillet later notes that the meal at the dining table ‘is over’ with the ‘wine glasses left on the table’ depicting a real-life scenario at a dinner table. Now that he has been transported into the scene of the dolls’ house like another character, he is perceiving the scenario like real life. The reader, however, is going to feel extremely unsettled because, to us, it is still a dolls’ house in which Mr Dillet is now trapped.
- The scene of the man and woman in the dining room will further unsettle the reader. Not only are the dolls acting in a completely human way, we are also not aware of what they are talking about – are they a threat to Mr Dillet? Are they concocting some sort of plan?
- When we become aware of the dolls’ fear, this serves to heighten our own fear – what is it that is causing them to be scared? Are they in danger? Our concern for Mr Dillet increases as we struggle to make sense of the scene.
- When the woman’s face is described as ‘broad, flat and sly’, the reader will feel a distrust in this character and perceive her as deceptive, creating a further unsettling feeling as the tension increases.