Conflicting Perspectives Essay Hsc

There are 2 changes that should be noted, before we have a look at the past HSC questions for the English Advanced Module C: Representation and Text – Elective 1: Conflicting Perspectives.

  1. The Elective was previously called “Telling the Truth” – I’ve changed the past HSC questions below to be about Conflicting Perspectives.
  2. The examination rubric for 2009 onwards in Module C have changed very slightly (there is essentially no difference). To read the “new” rubric: BOS.

Nevertheless, here are the past HSC questions for Telling the Truth, which have been adapted for Conflicting Perspectives. There are also some practice questions used by high schools.

I’ve also underlined the keywords in each question. As you’ll see, each question falls into a certain “type” of question:

  1. Question about your understanding/thoughts of Conflicting Perspectives.
  2. Question about how the composer’s representation affects meaning.

Can you figure out which category, each of the questions below fall into? Some may fall into more than 1 category.

The syllabus outlines what you should cover in your essay:

  • Explore various representations of events, personalities and situations.
    • Identify the events, personalities and situations in your texts.
    • Identify the conflicting perspectives about the above.
    • Analyse how these are represented by the composer.
  • Evaluate how the following influence meaning:
    • Medium of production
    • Textual form
    • Perspective
    • Choice of language

To see a very good example of how this syllabus can be covered, look at HSC Online’s analysis of Julius Caesar.

Past HSC Questions:


‘All representations are acts of manipulation.’

To what extent does your study of conflicting perspectives support this statement? In your response, make detailed reference to your prescribed text and ONE other related text of your own choosing.


Analyse how the representation of divergent viewpoints leads us to a greater awareness of the complexity of human attitudes and behaviour.

In your response, make detailed reference to your prescribed text and at least ONE other related text of your own choosing.


Explore how the [core text] and ONE other related text of your own choosing represent conflicting perspectives in unique and evocative ways.


To what extent has textual form shaped your understanding of conflicting perspectives?

In your response, make detailed reference to your prescribed text and at least ONE other related text of your own choosing.


Analyse the ways conflicting perspectives generate diverse and provocative insights.

In your response, make detailed reference to your prescribed text and at least ONE other related text of your own choosing.


Compare how the texts you have studied emphasise the complexities evident in the nature of conflicting perspectives.


How have the texts studied in this elective challenged your ways of thinking about ‘Conflicting Perspectives’?


Texts in this elective offer perspectives on the significance of truth in human experiences.

Were you persuaded to embrace these perspectives?


‘At the heart of representation are acts of deliberate selection and emphasis.’

Do the texts you have studied demonstrate this in relation to ‘Conflicting Perspectives’?


You are the keynote speaker at a conference for young writers and directors.

The title of your presentation is: Visions and Versions of Conflicting Perspectives.

In your presentation, explore how and for what purpose composers create their visions and version.


Imagine you are a journalist. You have been asked to contribute an article to an educational supplement for HSC students about the ways texts represent Conflicting Perspectives.

Your headline is Representation and Misrepresentation.


How has your understanding of events, personalities or situations been shaped by their representations in the texts you have studied?


You have created an exhibition of texts entitled “One person’s perspective is…”

The exhibition includes your prescribed text and other related texts of your own choosing.

Write your speech for the opening night of the exhibition. In your speech, explain how the exhibition reflects your vision of conflicting perspectives.

Questions used by school etc:

  1. You are speaking to an audience of your peers. Compose a speech in which you demonstrate how your understanding of conflicting perspectives is shaped by the construction of the texts.  (2009 CSSA Trial)
  2. How does the representation vehicle you have studied allow Conflicting Perspectives to be revealed?
  3. The idea of ‘Conflicting Perspectives’ suggests that the composers of the texts present an evenhanded, unbiased attitude to the events, personalities or situations represented. Evaluate the extent to which the representation of events, personalities or situations in the texts you have studied reflect this attitude. (Independent 2009 Trial)
  4. “My perspectives were veiled” – Your Paris, Ted Hughes. To what extent has the representation of your text and other material heightened your understanding of Conflicting Perspectives?
  5. “There are no certainties, only representations“. Discuss.
  6. Acts of representation are carefully constructed to the audience’s beliefs, desires and fears.
  7. Perspectives of an event, personality or situation may be manipulated by the ways in which a composer represents them. Evaluate the ways in which the composer manipulates perspectives in your prescribed text and in at least TWO other related texts of your own choosing.
  8. Conflicting perspectives of any event, personality or situation are a result of the ways the composer represents them. Discuss this statement.
  9. “Don’t be afraid of opposition. Remember, a kite rises against, not with, the wind.” Hamilton Mabie. Explore this proposition.
  10. It is not possible to hold a mirror to what we seek to represent. Representation will always modify thereby shaping meaning and influencing responses. To what extent do you agree with this statement?
  11. You are a speaker at a conference for writers and directors which is exploring the relationships between representation and meaning. You have been asked to discuss the extent to which conflicting perspectives intentionally distort meaning.
  12. Exploring conflicting perspectives helps us gain a better understanding of our world. Do you agree? In your response, make particular reference to your personal understanding of this
    Elective. (ETA 2009 Trial)
  13. ‘Sometimes what is right to one person is wrong to another.’ How relevant is this quotation to the ideas you have explored in your study of ‘Conflicting Perspectives’. (ETA 2009 Trial)
  14. “Truth springs from argument amongst friends.” David Hume. How far has investigation of different ‘arguments’ encountered in your study of [texts] led you to a better understanding of the truth? (ETA 2009 Trial)
  15. Passionate convictions, articulating opposing views, are presented in texts you have studied. How effectively has your response been manipulated by the representation of these views? (2010 CSSA Trial)
  16. More than anything else, conflicting perspectives are the result of bias or self-interest. Respond to this statement through an analysis of the ways perspectives are represented in your prescribed text and at least ONE other related text of your own choosing. (2011 CSSA Trial)
  17. How does your study of this elective demonstrate the idea that conflicting perspectives are shaped by the construction of texts?
    Refer in detail to your prescribed text and at least ONE other related text of your own choosing. (2011 GRC Trial)
  18. Conflicting perspectives are fundamental to our human desire to raise questions. To what extent do the texts you have studied in this module support or challenge this idea. In your response, make detailed reference to your prescribed text and at least one other related text of your own choosing. (Abbotsleigh 2010 Trial)
  19. You have been asked to take part in a debate on the topic: “that the existence of conflicting perspectives in society can only be enriching”. Write a speech that you could use to argue FOR or AGAINST this statement. In your speech, support your argument with close reference to how ideas have been represented in your prescribed text and at least TWO other related texts of your own choosing. (Baulkham Hills 2010 Trial)
  20. Evaluate how composers’ act of representation shape meaning and influence responses. In your response, you must refer to your prescribed text and at least ONE additional text of your own choosing. (Fort Street 2010 Trial)
  21. How have the texts you have studied in this elective enhanced your understanding of the complexities of conflicting perspectives? Refer to your prescribed text and TWO texts of your own choosing. (James Ruse 2010 Trial)
  22. At the heart of representation are acts of deliberate selection and emphasis. How does your prescribed text and ONE text of your own choosing illustrate this in relation to Conflicting Perspectives? (North Sydney Girls 2010 Trial)
  23. It does not help us understand an event, situation or a personality when we encounter conflicting perspectives about that event, situation or personality. You have been asked to present a view on this statement to an audience of HSC students. Write a transcript of the speech you would give. In your response, you must make detailed reference to your prescribed text and at least TWO other texts of your own choosing. (St Ignatius Riverview 2010 Trial)

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“At the heart of representation are acts of deliberate selection and emphasis.”
How do the texts you have studied demonstrate this in relation to conflicting perspectives?


Composers of texts attempt to influence and manipulate audiences into adopting their perspective of events, personalities and situations, in order to convince audiences of the veracity of their arguments. The fact that truth is subjective means that the representation of truth will also be subjective. In particular, it becomes clear through examination of texts such as The Justice Game, by Geoffrey Robertson, and Julian Barnes’ 1991 novel Talking It Over, that bias is inherent in every perspective that is presented by a composer.


Geoffrey Robertson’s non-fiction text, The Justice Game, is a clear example of a composer deliberately selecting and emphasising various facts and events in order to influence a reader. Through The Justice Game, Robertson presents his perspective of the British legal system, which he believes to be archaic and unjust, with too much potential for the transgression of human rights, through an evidently biased, subjective view, using the techniques of selection and omission to highlight various arguments to persuade readers. The Trials of Oz recounts the obscenity trials of the editors of Oz Magazine, highlighting the issues of freedom of speech and censorship, as well as the overarching concept of conflicting perspectives which are inherently present in every event or situation. The conflicting perspectives that are present in this case are instantly clear, as the avant-garde editors of Oz are challenged by the significantly more conservative character of Judge Argyle, whom Robertson views as a personification of the legal system. Judge Argyle, who presided over the case, is immediately presented in an unfavourable light, characterised as a conservative, out-of-touch and perhaps backward man, who Robertson implies sees his judgeship as “a career consolation for the Tory MP he had tried several times to become”. In his recount of the trials of Oz, Robertson expresses disdain for Judge Argyle, describing him in a condescending, sarcastic tone, effectively mocking how old-fashioned Argyle is- for example, highlighting his lack of familiarity of contemporary colloquial, “revolutionary” language, when Judge Argyle confuses the term “right on” with “write on”. In contrast, a more progressive value system and way of thinking is epitomised in the editors of Oz, which Robertson emphasises through pop culture references, such as to the iconic singer Bob Dylan, to appeal to a progressive audience. Hence through The Trials of Oz, Robertson clearly establishes his perspective, favouring the more modern, forward-thinking editors of Oz Magazine, through the careful use of selection and omission of evidence. Thus it is evident that Robertson’s representation of the characters involved in the events of the obscenity trials against Oz is underpinned by deliberate selection and emphasis, in order to persuade audiences of the tenacity of Robertson’s perspective.


Similarly, in Michael X on Death Row, Robertson attempts to persuade readers of the inhumane nature of the death penalty through the use of selection and omission to support and emphasise his argument that the Westphalian legal system is outdated and unjust. Immediately, Robertson establishes his human rights credentials and values, aligning himself with a liberal humanist audience, beginning with the statement “I’m in favour of abolishing the death penalty.” Furthermore, sympathy is evoked when Robertson explains that while waiting at the airport, he “could not afford to pay the full fare, and Michael X could have been executed at any moment, while his impoverished lawyer was waiting for someone to cancel their Caribbean holiday.” This barbed contrast assists Robertson to represent himself as a selfless saviour for humanity. Robertson begins the chapter with the use of emotive direct speech, highlighting the injustice of death row, such as “the uncovered light bulb (which) burned all night” and the “small sadistic pleasure” the governor took in reading death warrants to inmates. The cruelty of death row is reinforced as Robertson uses animal imagery to describes how the inmates are suffering inhumane conditions emphasised by emotive language such as “screeching” and “monkey house”, thereby appealing to the audience’s sense of pity. This is then followed by an establishment of legal context, with Robertson declaring “common law offered very little encouragement”, once again, like in The Trials of Oz, discrediting the historical British legal system. Michael X, who is clearly guilty of murder, is portrayed by Robertson in a more favourable light, with selection of descriptive terms such as “softly and carefully”, “light-skinned” and “clean shaven”, followed by the suggestion that “Michael was now a different man”. Robertson chooses to select parts of information to influence his readers to see the abhorrence of the death penalty, completely omitting any alternative perspectives, seen through his failure to discuss Michael X’s guilt in any substantial detail. By adopting a liberal humanitarian stance, Robertson emphasises the concept of forgiveness, not only reiterating his own credibility and authority, but also evoking emotion in the reader and highlighting the injustices of capital punishment. Therefore, through careful selection and emphasis, Robertson constructs a representation of the death penalty which is obviously subjective, ultimately convincing the reader to adopt Robertson’s perspective.


Like Robertson’s The Justice Game, Julian Barnes’ novel Talking It Over demonstrates conflicting perspectives as it explores the varied perspectives of four key characters caught in a complex situation of misunderstanding and disloyalty. The concept of conflicting perspectives is established most predominantly through the use of multiple first-person narration, with the narrative voice alternating between Stuart, Gillian, Oliver and Mme Wyatt, with each presenting their opinions and perceptions of events and characters according to their own perspective, emphasising the complex nature of conflicting perspectives.  Furthermore, Barnes employs various tones of voice to exemplify the conflict between the perspectives of the characters. For example, Oliver’s tone is condescending when he refers to Stuart, with mocking questions such as “Isn’t (he) so sweetly unstylish?”. The juxtaposition of the character’s perspectives, such as Stuart’s assertion that his advantage over an awkward, somewhat inept man at a social event “gave me more confidence”, while Gillian instead suggests “Stuart was the shy one… trying painfully hard to overcome it” in addition to Stuart’s characterisation of himself as “Dumb Stu” and Oliver as “Sophisticated Ollie”, as well as Oliver’s extensive use of foreign terms such as “Bienvenue chez Ollie” and “dummkopf”, reiterates the disparities in the characters’ attitudes towards and perceptions of each other. Overall, Barnes presents a complex situation of vastly differing perspectives between the characters, demonstrating the subjectivity inherent in each perspective as each character selects and emphasises certain facts or peculiarities about another in order to construct a representation of themselves and the other character which is persuasive to the audience. This therefore reiterates the concept that deliberate selection and emphasis underpins a composer’s representation of conflicting perspectives and truth.


In conclusion, a composer is inherently biased in their representation of a series of events, characters or ideas, despite their attempts to remain objective, or appear to do so. Composers attempt to influence readers to adopt their perspective and opinions of events and characters, through the deliberate manipulation of evidence in order to convince audiences of the veracity of their arguments. This is evident through The Justice Game, specifically The Trials of Oz and Michael X on Death Row, and Victoria Pitt’s documentary Leaky Boat, both of which clearly establish a purpose and opinion of particular issues, and select and emphasise certain aspects in order to represent their perspective.

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Enjoyed the Justice Game Sample Essay? You may also like: How To Write A Band 6 Essay or Belonging Creative Writing Essay Sample

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