How do I stay focussed when analysing large sections of a text?

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Analysing a larger section of a text – perhaps a chunk of a novel – can seem incredibly daunting at first, even if you have encountered the text in question before.

Here is a quick list of pointers to keep you calm and on track when the pressure is on:

What kind of text is this:

Poetry or prose? How will your knowledge of this type of writing affect your analysis?

Who is speaking:

In which person is the text written? Is it possible to pick up a voice at all?

What are they saying:

What themes can you pull out the text? Is this familiar or unusual subject matter? What comes before and after this section and how does this section fit in?

How are they saying it:

What is the tone or mood of the text? How are language and structure employed to convey that mood? Do the subject matter and tone match up?

Why are they saying it:

Do you know anything about the author? Does this text belong to a particular genre of writing? Is it original, clichéd, traditional or subversive? Is there a particular point to the text? Does it have a clear target audience?

At every stage of your analysis, remember to provide evidence for your claims and to give a sense of how this excerpt fits into the wider context of the whole text.

The Point – Quote – Analysis technique is the key to staying focussed and keeping sight of the text at all times, even and especially when your interpretations are running away with you!

Jessica M. GCSE English tutor, A Level English tutor, GCSE English La...

About the author

is an online GCSE English tutor with MyTutor studying at York University

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