How do I incorporate other critics ideas into my A Level essay?

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When writing an English literature essay, your interpretation and analysis is the most important part. However, using other critics work helps you to develop your own argument, by showing you have considered multiple interpretations, before arriving at your final thesis. 

In order to keep your essay relevant it is important that you only use critics that develop your argument. e.g. if your essay is on religion and you have a critic that discusses world war two machinery, then it probably is not relevant to your essay. However, this does not mean that the critic has to be saying the same thing as you. e.g. if your essay is on traditional gender roles, and your critic discusses metre in Emily Dickinson's poetry. Where the critic might say 'she uses a restricted metre'  you could apply this to your essay by saying '(critics name) suggests Emily Dickinson 'uses a restricted metre' which we can see in (poem's name), therefore we can see how Dickinson formally mirrors the poem's exploration of female oppression through the form of her poem'.

It is not always easy to directly quote critics in an exam, when you have to remember quotes from the books too. That is ok! It is probably more useful to you argument if you just remember a few critics names, and their basic ideas. For instance 'Emily Rena Dozier argues that Bronte depicts the conflicting genres of the Gothic and the Domestic throughout Wuthering Heights' There you would continue with your response, and how that develops your argument. 

Key Points to remember 

- Be relevant

- You don't always have to agree

- Respond to the idea (Why do you disagree/agree?)

- show you have read and understand their argument

- don't panic, you don't have to rememeber their exact words!

Rebecca P. GCSE English Literature tutor, A Level English Literature ...

About the author

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

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