Reading Files Essay

643 words - 3 pages

Paper 1—The Passage Based Essay
Simple Guidelines

Skills Tested
Informed critical response
Understanding of literary context
Analysis & evaluation of choices of form, structure & language in shaping meaning
Communication

Sample Question
How characteristic of the writing in Wide Sargasso Sea are the methods used in the following passage?
Write a critical commentary on the following passage, showing what you find typical of Rhys’ style and concerns in the novel.
Write a critical analysis of the following passage, highlighting ways in which Rhys creates character and tension at this point in the novel.
Look closely at Rhys’ methods and concerns in the following passage from Wide Sargasso Sea. How characteristic is it of the rest of the novel?
Write a close critical commentary on the following passage, paying particular attention to the presentation of Antoinette’s thoughts and feelings at this point in the novel.

How do I do this?
...view middle of the document...

g. it is the point in the novel when we first encounter a particular character, or it forms the turning point, or is significant in the presentation of a particular theme etc.
Do not write an all-purpose introduction that could be inserted into any essay.

Tell them
Do not paraphrase the passage. It’s an open book paper- you get no points for memory work
When identifying techniques comment on them. Don’t just say ‘in paragraph 5 Rhys uses imagery’. Tell the examiner what this means
The structure of your essay should be logical e.g. listing your points in descending order of importance
Link each paragraph back to the central thesis of your essay
Each paragraph should generally be devoted to one main point e.g. use of different viewpoint in one paragraph, narrative structure in another etc.
Structure your paragraphs properly e.g. a thesis statement backed up with short quotations from the text. Follow this with an explanation of the quotation and of its significance to your point
Use connecting devices such as Furthermore, However, Therefore etc.

Conclusion i.e. Tell them what you’ve just told them
Your conclusion should serve to draw together your entire argument
It should refer back to the question and offer an assessment of the text as a whole
Look forward to what will happen following the extract. In other words, you should consider the impact the events of the passage will have on future developments (in terms of character, theme, or perhaps even plot).

Examiners’ Comments
The extract question demands close critical appreciation skills of a very high order as well as essay structuring abilities. Too many candidates plunged into running commentaries which verged at times on paraphrase, some forgetting even to write introductions and conclusions. These pieces of work contrasted unfavourably with the complex and sophisticated essay structures of candidates who had answered the [discursive essay] options.’ (Examiners' Report on the 2001 GCE A level English Literature Examination)
‘Demands for a critical appreciation or analysis are not easily satisfied by paraphrase, summary, general comments or by just quoting extracts from a passage (without a commentary).’ (Examiners' Report on the 2003 GCE A level English Literature Examination)

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