What's the best way for me to structure an essay based on an excerpt in a text I have studied?

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One really easy acronym to remember is SMILE - Structure, Meaning, Imagery, Language, Effect. An essay that incorporates an analysis of all of those features will get the marks you need. The order is not fixed, just so you remember to include them. 'Structure' could include repetition, any mirroring, foreshadowing, parallels in other parts of the text (you don't have to stick to the excerpt, you can briefly refere outside of it);  'Meaning' is basically any big themes or meanings the author is trying to convey (e.g. the "American Dream can never be fully realised") - remember the text is a means through which the author is trying to convey something; 'Imagery' includes metaphors, similes, descriptive language, collections of adjectives or pre-modifiers - remember you also have to explain what all this imagery is trying to do - add to the meaning? enhance the setting?; 'Language' - anything else in particular you notice in the text? other literary techniques? figurative language, emotive language, think lexical fields (e.g. 'celestial/terrestrial/floral'/etc; 'the lexical field of machinery'); 'Effect' is extremely important as well - what does the language/structure/etc chosen make the reader/audience feel? Is the narrative reliable/questionable? And why? It's good to include the Meaning/Effect of each feature you pick up on immediately after you analyse it to keep your discussion tight and focussed on the question. After every paragraph, always refer directly back to your original question.

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