Literature is one of the hardest subjects to study for- You cannot solely rely on past papers as the marking system is highly subjective, there aren't enough resources due to syllabus changes, and the few resources available are vague and unhelpful. All this sounds terrifying, but don't worry! Using this guide should give you an idea of how to go about writing a paper for Literature 0475. This page contains links to other helpful websites, detailed guide to structuring your answer, study tips, and exam tips.
Poetry Prof : Poetry Prof is one of the best websites for poetry analysis for all the poems in the 0475 syllabus. The information provided is detailed and insightful. However, the content is presented with an informal and elaborate manner that may not be suitable for an exam answer.
Spark Notes, Cliffs Notes, Lit Charts: These websites are useful for drama and prose as they provide explanations for important quotations and themes. However the information provided is very brief and is just a summary, and although this can be useful when revising, it is not adequate on its own.
Obviously, you are going to have to read your novel/poems/play several times. You should have read the text at the very least 5 times before you sit for the exam. However, simply reading the text can seem like a waste of time since you don't seem to be doing any actual 'studying'. So here's what you can do:
While reading a specific scene, identify any five features that can form the body paragraphs for an exam answer. These could be:
A particular character's specific personality traits seen through their behaviour or dialogue
The exploration of a particular theme
Specific language use
Relationships between characters
The structure of the piece
Symbols, allegories or motifs
Do this for as many scenes as possible. This is time consuming, but will be very helpful as it can form the backbone/plan for almost every question you might get in the exam, since they're all somewhat vague and generic.
How to structure your answer:
If you are answering the extract based question, make sure you briefly mention the context of the passage. Why is it significant? Otherwise, make sure to introduce whichever character or theme the question asks about.
Mention all the main ideas you will be covering in the subsequent paragraphs. Time management is one of the biggest issues I had while writing papers 1 and 3, although the same applies for 2 as well. You have barely any time for planning your answer and hence by including the main points in the introduction, you can keep track of what you are writing.
2. Body paragraphs:
You should have at least 4, preferably 5 body paragraphs, each addressing a characteristic element of the passage. This could include themes, setting, characters, word choice/language, a shift in mood or tone, the structure of the text. The consistent use of a literary device, such as imagery, can provide enough content for an entire paragraph. However, if it's just a simile or metaphor used once here and there, use it as evidence in some other paragraph.
Things to consider:
-What are the main character traits shown by the character in this extract? (Ensure you provide evidence for each)
- What makes the character significant to the development of the play/poem/prose?
-What do the other characters think of them? Are they liked? Feared? Respected? Why?
- Has the character shown any growth or development that is visible in the extract?
- Where and when is it taking place and how is it significant?
-How does the setting reflect/affect the mood and atmosphere of the passage?
- Is it dark or light?
-Is it indoors or outdoors? Why is this relevant? (Hint: Think of the effects open space can have)
-What is the pace of the passage? Does it speed up or slow down?
- Are there frequent pauses?
-Note the length of paragraphs and sentences. Short sentences and paragraphs build momentum. A short sentence or single sentence paragraph can create emphasis.
- Repetition, anaphora, etc. gives the text or poem a rhythmic feel
Structuring your body paragraphs:
Although this is probably the most clichéd tip I'm giving you, it is really important- use the PEAL format.
Point- This is the topic sentence of your paragraph. Explicitly state what the paragraph is going to be about. Eg: Elizabeth's character develops as the passage progresses as she starts of being cold and unfeeling, but is seen to be loving and emotional by the end.
Evidence- Use important quotations, specific words, literary devices, change in tone/structure, to strengthen your point. Ensure the evidence you provide is only from the given extract.
Analysis- Identify the connotations of individual words in the quotes. What effect does that line have? Why is the line significant? How does it contribute to the mood or atmosphere? Eg: The phrase "lulled and directionless" portray her as untethered and without worries, although the word "directionless" suggests the poetic persona is lost and seeking purpose.
Personal Response: Although this hasn't been included in the PEAL acronym, PEAPL would make no sense, it's important that you include this as well. Write about your views of the text or passage, or write about what effect it has on you as a reader, or as the audience in the case of plays. Even though you are describing your own views, refrain from using first person pronouns as 'I' and 'me'. Instead, refer to yourself as the reader or audience as appropriate. Eg: The sudden use of short sentences punctuated by full stops greatly increases the momentum of the text, building suspense and anticipation in the reader.
Link back to question: This is just a single sentence. Simply summarise the content of the paragraph while addressing the question. Eg: If the question is 'how does the writer make this scene emotional?', the link could be- The writer makes this scene emotional by depicting Elizabeth's character growth and her increased display of emotion, which is rare.
In the conclusion, briefly summarise all the links back to question given in each of the paragraph, mention the importance of the passage in not more than a line, and state what overall effect it has on the reader.
Spend an average of 5 minutes per paragraph, with a total of 7 paragraphs, including the introduction and conclusion. Include as many paragraphs as possible, but this is a decent amount considering the time constraints of 45 minutes per answer
Choose the extract based question. It will make your life much easier.
Don't spend more than 5 mins planning. Skim through the text, underlining the important lines you are going to use as evidence.