MYTUTOR SUBJECT ANSWERS

873 views

How will I know if my interpretation of a text is right or wrong?

Many teachers will tell their students that there is no such thing as a ‘wrong’ answer in English Literature. This is true, on one level, but can be quite misleading. For the sake of simplicity, this statement sacrifices clarity, and needs some expanding on.

The beauty of English Literature is that it is defined by its subjectivity. It sits in a realm all on its own, away from objectivity and solid fact, where one hundred people can read the same text and have infinite ideas about what it might mean. So yes, in one sense, it is impossible to be wrong in English Literature.

But… if you can’t construct a clear argument, with reasonable evidence to support your interpretation of a text, then you may as well be wrong. The key to English Literature and analysis is making your reader understand your interpretation.

For example:

‘The curtains are blue’ is the first line of the first chapter of a book you are analysing in an essay.

If, in your essay, you were to state that the curtains are blue because the character is depressed… this is not technically incorrect. It is an interpretation, and so it cannot be entirely wrong. However, without reasonable evidence, your reader will find themselves frowning and scratching their heads. They will think to themselves, ‘Why can’t the curtains just be blue? Why does the colour have to mean something?’

That’s where you come in. Your role as the essay writer, as the analyst, is to convince your reader that your interpretation is feasible. You could begin by outlining the obvious evidence; for instance, the curtains being blue is likely to be of great significance, because they feature at the very start of the text. You could expand on this by examining the connotations of the colour blue, and its association with sadness.

With enough evidence, you will have succeeded in convincing your reader that your interpretation of the text is viable.

So, don’t be fooled into thinking that just because an analysis can’t technically be incorrect, it doesn’t require evidence and explanation. 

Mary-Anne F. GCSE English tutor, GCSE English Literature tutor, A Lev...

1 year ago

Answered by Mary-Anne, who tutored GCSE English Literature with MyTutor


Still stuck? Get one-to-one help from a personally interviewed subject specialist

129 SUBJECT SPECIALISTS

£18 /hr

David V.

Degree: English (Bachelors) - Cambridge University

Subjects offered: English Literature, History+ 1 more

English Literature
History
.ELAT

“Hi - I'm an English student at the University of Cambridge. I can never get tired of talking about literature, and as such I'd love to go through any difficulties you might have with particular questions or texts. My degree has expose...”

£18 /hr

Adam R.

Degree: French and German (Bachelors) - Oxford, The Queen's College University

Subjects offered: English Literature, Science+ 9 more

English Literature
Science
Politics
German
French
Extended Project Qualification
English and World Literature
English Language
Economics
Chemistry
.MLAT (Modern Languages)

“Hi there! I am a second year linguist at Oxford University. Although French and German are my speciality, I take a strong interest in all facets of education: arts, sciences, humanities, and social sciences. In order to excel in one's ...”

£18 /hr

Sophie P.

Degree: English Literature (Bachelors) - Durham University

Subjects offered: English Literature, English+ 2 more

English Literature
English
.ELAT
-Personal Statements-

“Hello, I'm Sophie and I'm a first year studying English Literature at Durham University! I am passionate about English and I believe that everyone should be able to enjoy reading, rather than solely for exam preparation, as it is both...”

About the author

Mary-Anne F.

Currently unavailable: for new students

Degree: English Literature (Bachelors) - Cardiff University

Subjects offered: English Literature, English

English Literature
English

“In my sessions, you will set the expectations. My teaching style is versatile  and incredibly adaptable, so whatever you need from me, I will do my very best to give to you. My understanding of the ways in which the individual mind abs...”

You may also like...

Posts by Mary-Anne

How do I write a good introduction to an essay?

How will I know if my interpretation of a text is right or wrong?

Other GCSE English Literature questions

How do I know what an essay question is asking and what the examiner is looking for in an answer?

How is religion presented throughout Shakespeare's King Lear?

How does John Steinbeck use colour to develop his characters in the novella 'Of Mice and Men'.

What is intertextuality and why is it important?

View GCSE English Literature tutors

Cookies:

We use cookies to improve our service. By continuing to use this website, we'll assume that you're OK with this. Dismiss

mtw:mercury1:status:ok