How to analyse a cartoon?

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General tips for any language analysis:

- Always go from the macro to the micro – from the context to the little details

- In the introduction identify the type of text, the purpose and audience (see below about the last two)

- Always conclude

- Use as much relevant terminology as you can BUT DON’T USE WORDS YOU DON’T KNOW THE MEANING OF

- During the two last paragraphs (when you get into the micro) try to include the effect of each literary device on the reader – how does it affect the tone? How does it affect the mood? – EXAMINERS LOVE THIS

1. Purpose – what is the purpose of cartoons in general and what is the purpose of this one? (can have more than one)

- Commentary – political or social

- Entertainment

- Bringing light on a debatable subject

2. Audience reception – use theories learnt in class or during tutorials

e.g. Hall and Morley

      - Dominant

      - Negotiated

      - Oppositional

3. Technique – identify one within each and give evidence of them:

 a) Artistic Techniques (evidence to look for: caricatures, exaggerated features, symbols)

    -  Abstract

    -  Iconic

    -  Realistic

b) Humor techniques

   -  Lampooning

   -  Pun

   -  Satire

   - Black humor

   - Parody

   - Juxtaposition

   - Allusion

4. Imagery – within each part, answer the questions by looking at the details of the cartoon

a) People – Who are the people in the cartoon? What are they doing?

b) Objects – What are the physical items included? (include metonyms and symbols)

c) Language – What effect does the writing have? (TONE AND MOOD)

Julia R. IB English Language tutor, IB Business Studies tutor

About the author

is an online IB English Language tutor with MyTutor studying at Durham University

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