MYTUTOR SUBJECT ANSWERS

1319 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...

2 years 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

190 SUBJECT SPECIALISTS

£36 /hr

Giulia A.

Degree: MSt Modern Languages (Italian) (Masters) - Oxford, St Edmund Hall University

Subjects offered:English Literature, Italian+ 3 more

English Literature
Italian
History of Art
English Language

“Hello! I'm Giulia, a tutor in English and Italian literature and language, currently studying for a MSt Modern Languages (Italian) at the University of Oxford.”

£18 /hr

Seb C.

Degree: History and Politics (Bachelors) - York University

Subjects offered:English Literature, Maths+ 1 more

English Literature
Maths
History

“Hi Everyone! I'm Seb and I am in first year studying History and Politics, both of which I am passionate about equally!”

MyTutor guarantee

£30 /hr

Emily C.

Degree: Romantic and Victorian Literature (Masters) - Durham University

Subjects offered:English Literature, Extended Project Qualification+ 4 more

English Literature
Extended Project Qualification
English and World Literature
Classical Civilisation
-Personal Statements-

“I am studying for a master’s degree in Romantic & Victorian Literature at Durham University. I love literature and hopefully after the session you will too!”

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

What is intertextuality and why is it important?

What is the difference between what is presented and how it is presented?

How do I plan for essays in an exam?

How should I structure an essay?

View GCSE English Literature tutors

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

mtw:mercury1:status:ok