Who's in control?

Language can be used to impose a particular balance of power between one person and another. This can create a positive or negative effect: we can encourage, support or flatter, but we can also disguise, dominate, trap or trick.

Look at the sources below. Try to identify who is in control, and who is being controlled. Think about how the balance of power is being demonstrated.

Consider the part played by body language. The way that somebody sits or stands, their gestures and facial expressions, all of these can be 'read' alongside language, and can give additional clues as to how they feel.


Billy Liar (text extract)

A Kestrel for a Knave (text extract)

Sons and Lovers (text extract)

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (text extract)

The Circumlocution Office