How do I use a quote successfully in an essay?

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When using a quote in any essay, it is important to decide how you are going to fit it in to your writing and how the quote is going to support your argument.

The first thing to think about is how you are going to use the quote in a sentence. A good way to make sure that your writing flows is to make your point first and then use your quote to support it. For example:

King Lear's vulnerability can be seen when he describes himself as a 'fond old man'

or... Shakespeare creates sympathy for King Lear by showing the audience his vulnerability as a 'fond old man'

After you have used the quote, it is then important to explain why you have used it. When quoting from a text, you can often do this by analysing the language. For example, with the quote above you could pick out the word 'old' and write about how it is King Lear's old age that makes him vulnerable.

If you are quoting a critic, then a good way to expand on the quote is to either agree or disagree with it and explain the reasons for your opinion. As long as you explain why you have used the quote then it will support the argument of your essay.

And finally... Plan! If you plan where and how you are going to use quotes in your essay, you will have time to ask yourself questions such as: What is the writer's intention in this quote? and How does this critic's opinion support what I am trying to say?

It is when you answer these questions within your essay that you get the most out of the quotes that you use.

Catherine  M. GCSE English Literature tutor, A Level English Literatu...

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is an online A Level English Literature tutor with MyTutor studying at Bristol University

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