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Analysing Literature? Some ideas to get you started‌

e l t i T e Th

• What predictions can we make from the title? • Identify key words and their effect • What images or associations are conjured by the title?

• Do you understand what has happened in the story? Could you explain what has happened to a friend? NOTE: without re-telling the plot, you must be able to illustrate that you have understood the storyline in an analysis.

P l ot

e v i t a r r a N e r u t c u Str

• How was the story structured? Did it conform to the usual conventions? • How did the structure effect the reader?








'Conflict and  rising action'




The protagonist meets a  problem - his or her life is  disturbed in some way the  action is built up to a climax  the protagonist deals with the  conflict. The reader will be  brought to sympathise with  the protagonist during the  conflict and to feel anger at  the role of the antagonist.

In the opening, the reader needs to be 'exposed' to  sufficient information and detail to allow the story to  'work'; they also need to be 'hooked' into the  imagined 'story-world'. This is the role of the opening  section, the 'exposition'. It gives answers to key  questions: who (the protagonist) , where, when and  in what (cultural) situation (all part of the 'setting'):  all narrated in an interesting lively way.  An intriguing  'plot hook' is given early, 'hooking' the reader into the  storyworld. A suitable mood helps, often given  through careful description of setting; this helps the  reader 'feel' a sense of 'being in the fictional storyworld'. A story can begin in media res- in the middle  of the action - but this forces the need for some kind  of flashback device. In the exposition, the sense that  the main character's life is in 'equilibrium' is  suggested - a balance about to be disturbed by the  'conflict'!


The conflict resolves in a way  that will seem satisfying; the  story ends and the life of the  protagonist enters a new  'equilibrium'. He or she has  changed, becoming wiser  having dealt with life's  problems.

n o i t p i r c s e D

• In what ways has description been used to create an effective mood or atmosphere (especially tension)? • How does this support the action or characterization? NOTE: this is almost always important when discussing SETTING

g n i t t e S

• Where is the story set? • What do you think is poignant about this setting? Why did the author choose it?

• How would you describe the characters? What “clues” did the text give to help you build a picture of the characters? • How did the author help you to believe in and either empathise with (i.e. 'understand') or distrust the story's characters? • How did the characters surprise you/confirm your ideas about them? NOTE: you must mention the language used by the writer!

Chara cteris a


e v i t a r r a N e c i o V

• Is the story told by one of the characters (usually the protagonist using the first person pronoun, 'I') or by a person outside the story itself (which seems often to be that of the author and which uses the third person pronouns 'he', 'she' or 'they')? • How obvious is this voice? What are its qualities - its effects on you, the reader? Does it seem entirely trustworthy? Is it reliable? Is it educated? Is it biased towards a particular character or way of viewing society?

• What issues are you made to feel strongly about? How does the write get you to feel this way?

Them e

e h T s c i s ba

• You should always be considering literary devices such as imagery and diction/language use as you analyse – these can be evident in any of the areas mentioned and all have an effect on the reader! • Evidence – you must use quotes as evidence of your claims. Make sure they are the best quote for the job, and kept short.

Analysing literature