MYTUTOR SUBJECT ANSWERS

1139 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

201 SUBJECT SPECIALISTS

£20 /hr

Bethan S.

Degree: English Literature (Masters) - Edinburgh University

Subjects offered:English Literature, English

English Literature
English

“Enthusiastic English Literature student at the University of Edinburgh. I achieved A*s in English Language/Literature at GCSE and A* at A-Level. ”

£24 /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!”

£20 /hr

Eszter H.

Degree: Modern Languages (Bachelors) - Durham University

Subjects offered:English Literature, Maths+ 6 more

English Literature
Maths
History
German
English and World Literature
English Language
.MLAT (Modern Languages)

“I am a Modern Languages (German and Spanish) student at Durham University. I believe that the knowledge of foreign languages is becoming more and more important, thus I am devoted to help every student who want to develop their German...”

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

Discuss the use of imagery in the poem "Medusa" by Carol Ann Duffy

How do I practice writing an essay in the timed conditions?

How do I structure a comparative essay?

In a Christmas Carol compare one way Dickens presents Scrooge at the start of the novel to the way he presents him at the end of the novel?

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