Ian F. Hunt

Cinematographer and Filmmaker

By

English – Assignment: Response to non-literary material

Section A

1.0 How does Bryson’s use of fact and opinion help us in our understanding of his experience in Bournemouth during his previous and present visits?

Firstly, the extract from “Notes from a Small Island” is written in the first person narrative, which instantly creates a personal tone and so I would expect this extract to be written from Bryson’s personal viewpoint which helps engages the reader. It is also by definition most likely to be biased because this is Bryson’s personal viewpoint.

Opinion and bias dominate Bryson’s description of Bournemouth in comparing his first introduction to Bournemouth in 1977 and his return. He expresses regret at the loss of some of the shops and their departments including the fact of the loss of Beale’s book department and the fact that the food hall at Dingles has also gone. But of most importance to him is the loss of the “…elegant little bakery, taking the worlds best sugar doughnuts with it…” and a good example of Bryson’s bias with this personal opinion on what he considers to be the best doughnuts in the world and most probably an exaggeration. The implications here are that not all changes are for the better. Definitely a biased opinion from Bryson here but in counter argument he does mention some positive improvements such as shopping arcades being ‘nicely tarted up’ and to a positive aspect of the differences between his previous visit in 1977 and now ‘…there wasn’t a scrap of litter to be found…’ which compared to his previous visit “…whereas in my day Christchurch Road was an open-air litter bin.”

Bryson uses facts to ensure that the part of his book which is intended to be used as a Travel guide uses accurate names for each of the locations he describes so that travellers will recognise the locations from his descriptions, examples include “…Pleasure Gardens…” and “…tourist information centre on Westover Road…” Other examples include his expectations of “… English answer to Bad Ems or Baden-Baden – manicured parks, palm courts with orchestras, swank hotels …” and the facts are “…Sadly, I have to report that almost none of this awaited me…”

2.0 What is the purpose of facts, opinions and implied meanings in the Brittany Ferry advertisement?

Firstly, an advertisement is designed to persuade the reader to buy the product and/or service. The Brittany Ferry advertisement is very persuasive, by using many examples of the positive points to using Ferry Travel, by highlighting only the positives aspects to ferry travel compared to the negatives aspects associated by the alternative of using air travel. For example “…had become disillusioned with the hassle of air travel…” this is using opinion of the “…Mead Family…” to imply that ferry travel does not have the same hassles that the air traveller experiences. The Brittany Ferries advertisement also avoids mentioning any of the positive points of using air travel in particular the dramatic difference in the speed between the two modes of travel. For example Ferry Travel to Spain is described as an overnight journey yet by using air travel you could do the same journey in just a few hours.

The sales approach begins with the title “A holiday ferry-tale” using a malapropism of Fairytale to identify a holiday with Brittany Ferry’s as being just like a being in a Fairytale with its associated imagery of an idyllic holiday just like a fairy tale. The advert reinforces this malapropism towards the end of the advertisement by stating “…Trégastel was spectacular with its fairytale-like pink granite coast…” Of course the reader could also view this negatively; their promise of a perfect holiday experience could also be just a Fairytale.

Several literary techniques are used in the advertisement, there is an example of the rule of three, “The Ferry was fantastic”, “the whole family loved the live cabaret”, “the children’s entertainment was a real hit” all of these quotes also using hyperbole in their descriptions of ferry travel. There is the use of hyphenated language including; “…tired of the run-of-the-mill package holidays…” and “…great-value holiday option…”

Like all advertisements there is the factual contact information, telephone number and website address, there is also a competition to win a holiday, using the imperative, attracting the reader and encouraging them to apply and most importantly supply their contact information, this is most likely for future contact from Brittany Ferries, offering holiday offers and other incentives to use their services.

3.0 How does the Brittany Ferry advertisement use its choice of layout, presentation and language to persuade you to go on holiday with them?

There’s a strong bias shown throughout this advertisement in favour of ferry travel, where Brittany Ferries describes air travel when compared with ferry travel as having ‘inconvenient check in times’ and likening air travel using the simile  ‘…herded like cattle…’ and with the added problems of ‘…baggage limitations…’. There is no mention of sailing delays, bad weather cancellations or seaman and dock workers strikes in this advertisement.

Although this is in effect a Ferry service they have also associated themselves to being similar to a cruise service by a quote from the Mead family stating “…The Ferry was fantastic – MV Bretagne was more like a cruise ship…” there by association raising the level of service that a potential customer would think they would be getting, this positive visualisation of an opulent cruise ship rather than the usual visualisation associated with a car ferry, that being, open cold decks swaying with every passing wave, everyone feeling seasick and just waiting for the journey to be over.

In the Brittany Ferry Advertisement they have chosen to use an artistic impression of their holidays rather than by just showing their holidays in photographs, this is done to invoke the reader into visualising what they want the reader to see, which in this case they have done by creating imagery of a sunny childhood holiday.  They’ve achieved this through the use of strong summery colours, the reds, yellows and gold, the golden sunsets and idyllic farmhouse scene of quote “…pretty gíte…” locations. All these images are symbolic of the best in childhood summer holidays. This choice of imagery evokes and enhances the advertisements association with its holidays being like a Fairytale.

The layout of the pictures themselves appear at first to be out of order; the first picture is of a location in France, their destination with the heading “REAL FREEDOM France offers an authentic holiday experience”, this is followed by a picture of the Ferry sailing away into a sunset “TRAVEL IN STYLE Cruise direct to the best parts of France and Northern Spain” but which could visually represent the end of the holiday and the third picture is of a car being packed up “PACKING UP No baggage limitations at all”, again visually representing the journey home but the heading seems to refer to the start of the journey. But by making the first picture the one showing the idyllic holiday location and making it larger then the others this directs the reader’s attention to this picture over all others and again creating this visualisation of the Fairytale holiday.

There is a simplicity to the language used, the rhythm used is always upbeat “The Ferry was fantastic”, “the whole family loved the live cabaret”, “the children’s entertainment was a real hit” other examples include, “…like a cruise ship…”, “Travel in style” and “Real freedom”.

4.0 How does choice of language and structure interest the reader?

Bryson’s style of writing creates the feeling that he is guiding you on his travels, in this case around Bournemouth, pointing out changes for good and changes that in his opinion are not so good.

Bryson also uses humour to great effect to engage the reader and share his view of Bournemouth and its changes from when he was last in Bournemouth. For instance he describes one new building as “…decorated with a curious glass and tubular steel edifice that looked like a bus shelter for giants”. Another example of where Bryson uses humour is where he describes the Pleasure Gardens as, “…provide shoppers with a tranquil green place to rest on their long slog from one side of the centre to the other…” and in the same sentence “… though of course, if it weren’t for the parks there wouldn’t be the long slog. Such is life”.

Bryson makes use of different sentence lengths to engage the readers’ interest by personalising the text, for instance just looking at the example above, where he describes the Pleasure Gardens a sentence of over seventy five words in length followed by a sentence of just three words “Such is life” where he is basically making a very personal statement.

Bryson also makes use of his observation skills in for example in his description of the offices where he used to work likening them to a Dickens novel “…untidy stacks of paper, gloomy lighting, two rows of hunched figures sitting at desks…” His writing creates imagery of “…cadaverous figures…” from which the reader will immediately visualise a scene from Dickens novel ‘A Christmas Carol’ and Scrooge’s offices as described in Dickens novel with the ‘Echo’s’ equivalent of Bob Cratchit sitting at a desk scratching away with a quill pen in a freezing cold and dark office heated only by the burning of a single lump of coal in the fire grate. The reason why Bryson invokes this imagery is for the reader to be able to visualise themselves being in this environment so that they will have a better understanding of how he felt when he worked there.

Bryson uses language to engage the reader by being informal and by seemingly addressing his comments and descriptions directly to the reader. His rhythm varies and can be very downbeat at some times, for example when he describes the changes that have been made between now and his previous visit to Bournemouth, “…elegant little bakery, taking the worlds best sugar doughnuts with it…”.

5.0 For what purpose is bias used in Bryson’s description of Bournemouth and the Brittany Ferries’ advertisement?

Bryson’s use of bias is used to engage the reader hinting at his own and in some instances his very personal views one example of which is his views regarding officials who for instance, “…some councillor or other force for good realised the profound and unhealthy implications of placing Lower and Pleasure in such immediate proximity to each and successfully lobbied to have Lower removed from the title, so now you have the Upper Pleasure Gardens and the mere Pleasure Gardens…” you can almost feel some of Bryson’s exasperation as he describes the thought processes and actions of minor officials in this case Bournemouth’s councillors.

Brittany’s Ferries’ uses bias to persuade the reader to switch primarily from air travel and package holidays from air travel companies to ferry travel and their package holiday offers. There’s the “…they discovered routes that saved them miles of driving, petrol, tolls and overnight stops…” surely if they had flown they would have arrived very close to their eventual destination and so would not have driven miles, bought petrol, have incurred tolls or overnight stops. There are many other examples of bias, most promoting the advantages of ferry travel as apposed to air travel examples of this include “…The journey was without stress” another was “The choice of food on board was excellent too” and “…convenient sailings…” with “…high speed service…” and finally “…forget about baggage limitations…”

6.0 Comparing the two non-literary texts

Comparing the two non-literary texts we are able to identify that Bryson piece is intended at possibly two types of reader, the traveller who is researching a location or indeed an idea for their own future travel and holiday requirements and is therefore looking for travel ideas, places of interest and sights to see, or alternatively Bryson is writing for a reader who is just reading primarily for entertainment purposes. Bryson’s humorous take on a travel location achieves both these goals, describing the locations for the potential traveller and the funny descriptions for the reader looking for entertainment.

The Brittany Ferries advertisement by comparison is aimed primarily at young families. Although there is a carrot for the adults as well “…There are also some great-value golf breaks on offer too, for the enthusiast…” It targets it’s customers by describing the details of a Fairytale family holiday “The Mead family”, their travel plans and the details of their accommodation. “The Meads really enjoyed their new holiday experience” in the start of final paragraph is a closing statement designed to close the sale and get the reader to consider using their service for their next holiday.

Looking specifically at the tone of the two non-literary texts in comparison they couldn’t seem to be more different. Brittany Ferries emphasises the positive aspects of their offering throughout their advertisement mixing a passive voice with the active voice of the Mead family.  Bryson is much more cynical in his tone sometimes almost disparaging in particular to the changes he sees between his former and current visits to Bournemouth, although still with this humorous take used in his descriptions and as it was written in the active voice that is the first person narrative, with Bryson’s personal view of everything he describes in his book, this helps the reader identify with the authors travel and personal experiences.

Section B

“Cosmetic Surgery” from The Hospital Group

The advertisement is designed purposely to be both persuasive and subjective

Opinions and superlatives proliferate in the advertisements top section examples of which include “whole new you”, “an excellent experience” and “industry leading standards” all designed to catch the readers’ attention. In the bottom section there are even more examples of opinion, superlatives  and certainly bias including the whole description of their bespoke service for example “The world’s top surgeons, hand picked for their exceptional skills & technical ability”, which could also be interpreted as hyperbole as the Hospital Group is unlikely to have access to all the worlds top surgeons and we can assume that it was them that decided who the top surgeons’ were and determined their level of skills and technical ability. This opinion is expanded upon with their next statement “Leaders in their field, with their own innovative, newly developed techniques”, again as no other external authoritive body is cited we are left to assume that this again is the sole opinion of “The Hospital Group”.

The advertisement is actually two advertisements’ in one. The top half of the advertisement appears to target and is therefore biased toward a less sophisticated potential customer than the bottom section of the advertisement. They have done this by separating the top and bottom half of the advertisement visually by a change in colours used that is a white background for the top section and a black background for the bottom section. They have also distinguished the difference between the two service levels they offer by giving the premium service a name “Introducing The Platinum Choice” biasing this section of the advertisement towards the more sophisticated clientele.

The advertisement creates an emotive response in several ways and levels, the list of procedures identify parts of the body which a potential customer may be unhappy with and they offer to solve this problem for you and at the same time make you happy. This is underlined by the statement “…a whole new you…” The separation of the advert into two distinct levels that is dependent on the perceived sophistication of the customer. The top half will appeal to the average customer who will have a budget and for this reason they list medical procedures and their starting prices, in fact the prices listed are all sub £4,000. The bottom half of the advert meanwhile refers to a bespoke service tailored not only to their requirements but also to the customers’ ability to pay, with prices starting from £12,000. There’s also the use of locations to sell the exclusivity of the “Platinum Choice” that it London, Beverley Hills and Barcelona all considered premium locations, whereas the top half of the advertisement locations are much less salubrious for example; Leeds, Sheffield, Glasgow, Newcastle, Bristol and Norwich, hardly a select location amongst them.

The tone running throughout the advert gives the impression of authority, it does this in several ways, first there is the visual aspect of the advert with the main picture of the man dressed and therefore presented as being a Surgeon, very much an authoritive figure with a high status in society. The use of this authority figure also allows them to transfer some of this authority to the content of the advert, seemingly to present supposition as facts, taking the heading again as an example of this “…for a whole new you…” This impression of authority is enforced by the wording in the advertisement “Mr Mario Russo, Medical Director” the keywords here are Medical Director. Then again “The World’s top surgeons” and “Leaders in their fields” all add to this impression of authority, these terms, imperatives for the reader to act assuming they are indeed looking for cosmetic surgery surely they’d want the “The World’s top surgeons” and “Leaders in their fields” to carry out their surgery.

There is also an imperative for customers to call them in the top half of the advertisement “Call: 0845 626 727” whilst the bottom section of the advertisement just presents its telephone number without the imperative to call. This is another example of how this advertisement is designed to be perceived by two very different customers separated by we presume their level of sophistication or financial status, that is their ability to pay.

Facts are few, limited to the names, that’s is the name of the company “The Hospital Group” the name of the Medical Director “Mr Mario Russo” and the contact details, that is telephone numbers and website address. Although some information does seem to be presented as facts when in fact they are not “Leaders in their fields…” Although details of clinic locations are mentioned there are no specifics and so they provide too little information to be considered facts especially as all the contact information is non-geographically based. The telephone numbers all start 0845 and the website address is a .com, again this could be anywhere in the world the only exception is the telephone number for Ireland.

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