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I am Malala & Pride | Sample Essay about Identity

Until very recently, there was a lack of resources available for those who needed to compare and contrast Yousafzai’s memoir “I am Malala” with Warchus’ film “Pride” . Even though the internet is full of information, it can still be a challenge even for the most experienced writer. To help you prepare for the end of year, we have written a sample essay to illustrate how ideas about the two texts can be organised and articulated. We really hope you find this helpful for your studies!

“Sometimes it’s better to tell your own story.” How do I Am Malala and Pride demonstrate that is important to be honest about who you are, even when it is difficult?

Malala Yousafzai’s memoir I Am Malala and Matthew Warchus’ film Pride documents the lives of individuals who suffer due to the marginalization of their identities. Although Yousafzai defines being honest about who you are as being outspoken about your principles, while for Warchus it is defined as being open about sexual identity, both texts provoke reflection on how certain societies punish individuality and identity. Nonetheless, both texts also show the importance of being true to oneself to become a role model for those inhibited by fear, and to benefit society at large.

  • Clearly outline your arguments to improve the flow and coherence of your essay.
  • Focus on what the authors are doing, rather than what happened in the texts.

Yousafzai and Warchus both aim to educate their readership and audience on the painful ostracization of individuals who wish to express themselves truthfully.  In I Am Malala this not only means that women are marginalized for their womanhood but also for their outspokenness and expression of identity. Yousafzai provides the anecdote of Shabana, a young dancer who is killed by extremists, to illustrate this. The auditory imagery of the “shots” and the “screaming” evokes to the reader the brutal reality of living in an authoritarian environment where freedom of expression, such as the act of dancing, is punished. The onomatopoeia of the “chop chop” and “drip drip” of the chicken heads also alludes to the Taliban’s practices of beheading and foreshadows Yousafzai’s own assassination attempt for speaking out. This illustration of a harsh, punishing society is also evident in Pride, where the director visualizes the LGBT community’s suffering in 1980s Britain. The mise-en-scene of the word ‘queer’ spray painted the bookshop window epitomizes this. In addition to the slur, the red paint evokes connotations of blood, and symbolizes the physical violence faced by people such as Gethin, who is later assaulted for his sexual identity. The harshness of the homophobic British society is also heavily implied in the wide-angle shots of the cold, winter landscape Gethin travels through to reach his mother, with the journey itself symbolic of the struggle to remain true to oneself in a society which prejudices against sexual minorities. While Warchus focuses on sexual identity, and Yousafzai on women’s freedom of expression, both Pride and I Am Malala thus emphasise the difficulty of revealing one’s true self to the world.

Most 9-10/10 essays will focus on linguistic features and literary devices rather than the plot and characters. Some language techniques discussed here include:

  • Anecdote
  • Auditory Imagery
  • Onomatopoeia
  • Foreshadowing
  • Mise-En-Scene
  • Symbolism
  • Wide-angle shots

Nonetheless, both texts demonstrate the importance of being open about who you are so as to become a role model for others. Malala’s act of writing her own speech, stating that “sometimes it’s better to tell your own story, from the heart rather than from a piece of paper” allows her to give voice to her own experiences, and thus inspire other women to do the same. Her refusal to let a male figure like her father write her speech according to tradition likewise allows her to educate her audience in the memoir on the female experience. This is perhaps why she states “I don’t feel it’s a story about me at all” in regards to her memoir, as by giving voice to her experiences the biography strives to empower women globally. Likewise, the personal actions of the LGSM within Onllwyn give courage and hope to those around them. The mise-en-scene of the gay couple kissing on the couch, with Cliff foregrounded and in the focal point, foreshadow his own coming out to Hefina. By remaining honest about their identities even in the initially hostile mining community, the members of LGSM unintentionally become role models for men like Cliff as he begins to see possibilities of his own acceptance within Gethin’ triumphant polysyndeton “I’m home. And I’m gay. And I’m Welsh!” Thus, Mark’s insistence on being “unapologetic” mirrors Malala’s sentiment in her belief that “it’s better to tell your own story,” as both tests illustrate how truthfulness in presentation can inspire those around you.

At the macro level, both texts also suggest that being honest about one’s principles and identity benefits society at large; while in Pride these benefits consist of others overcoming their prejudices, in I Am Malala these benefits consist of supporting the powerless. Ziauddin’s characterization is central to illustrating this, as he educates Malala and her readership on the value of speaking out against others’ injustices. His literary allusion to the poem by Martin Niemoller “and then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me,” warns the reader of the dangers of remaining silent in times of others’ suffering. Similarly, he proclaims that “a state is like a mother, and a mother never deserts or cheats her children.” Here, the simile evokes a sense of responsibility, and the diction of “cheats” connotes a sense of dishonesty and betrayal. While the implied ‘deserter’ is the Pakistani government, the metaphor also calls on Pashtun activists around Ziauddin to not abandon their principles for fear of retribution. In contrast, the benefits of openness in Pride concretise in the miners’ overcoming of heteronormative values and prejudices. The mise-en-scene of Jonathan dancing at the Welfare illustrates the positive influence he leaves on the community by refusing to compromise his individuality. Whilst initially, his flamboyance and pride, juxtaposed with the lyrics “Shame Shame Shame” is met by disapproval, the reaction shots of the miners soon shift towards a more positive tone, and Gary’s statement “I want to learn how to dance” symbolizes his gradual abandonment of heteronormative values and prejudice towards the lesbian and gay community. Pride thus demonstrates that being open about one’s inherent identity leads to the positive normalization of such identities, and thus the overcoming of prejudice, whilst I Am Malala demonstrates that remaining honest and outspoken about one’s individual principles is key to eliminating injustice. 

In conclusion, while I Am Malala and Pride define being honest about who one is in different ways, both texts similarly emphasise the importance of doing so. Despite the intense difficulty of being visible in a discriminatory society, Warchus and Yousafzai call on their audiences and readership to recognize how one must often accept this sacrifice to create positive change in society, whether that be overcoming prejudice in the case of Pride, or empowering the powerless in the case of I Am Malala.


That’s it for today! If you need further assistance on “Pride” and “I am Malala”, please do not hesitate to let us know. We offer both tutoring and essay marking packages for those who require extra guidance prior to the VCE exams.

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