How do I analyse my A level texts effectively?

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In literary analysis, it can be tricky to see what you should be looking for. Yet, consistently, we analyse without realising it. When reading a newspaper article, we interpret meaning, and a sophisticated reader will assess its source of or implicit political biases. Similar analytic skills can be applied to fiction. You assess what's being said, who's saying it and whether you trust it. There's a popular analogy of a text as a tapestry, where the reader unpicks its woven strands to see the inner workings. This imagery helps me when I'm at a loss with a text: in my search for meaning, I'm looking for details which inform the whole picture. 

My advice would be to first interpret independently. Think through your visceral response to the text: did you find it poignant? Uplifting? Tragic? What are its themes and motives? Spend some time on your own thoughts, and consider what you think the author is trying to do. Next you consult secondary sources, and think about the lenses which can be applied to the text - would a feminist or geopolitical reading be apt, for instance? What can contextual information reveal about society and culture? You may also find your mark scheme a useful reading guide, as it will highlight the particular qualities you should focus on. 

Tallulah G. A Level English tutor, GCSE English tutor, GCSE Maths tut...

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is an online A Level English tutor with MyTutor studying at Kings, London University

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