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A Level English Literature | Guide to Narrative Analysis

Steve Campsall | Wednesday March 16, 2011

Categories: Hot Entries, AQA A Level, AQA A Level English Literature A, LTA1, LITA2, LITA3, LITA4, AQA A Level English Literature B, LITB1, LITB2, LITB3, LITB4

Although analysing a text at the level of narrative is a direct requirement of some English Literature courses, such as AQA’s LITB1, it is an analytical technique that can be quite generally applied across many texts – even non-fictional and media texts.

Narrative is a central aspect of imaginative fiction such as short-stories, the novel and many poems but it also crops up in very many everyday texts. Despite this, it remains a less than easy idea to grasp and can easily prove a challenge to even the brightest students. This guide examines narrative in ways that will allow students to put what they learn to analytical use uncovering the kind of subtle details that will lead to the highest marks.

  • The opening part of this guide focuses on LITB1 but the remainder is applicable to more general A-level English Literature use.


‘Aspects of Narrative’ is an examined unit within the AQA ‘B’ AS year which, along with the coursework unit LITB2: Dramatic Genres, forms the first part of the A-level qualification. The exam requires the student to answer two questions based on four texts studied over the course. Two texts need to be poetry and two prose, with one prose text written after 1900. The exam questions ask the student to discuss how poets and authors use narrative techniques to influence their readers’ interpretation of their text in key ways.

The forms and structures of narrative are the conventional methods we all choose to use whenever we feel the need to convey information in the form of a story – and aspects of the story form are often the preferred method of conveying complex information about life and the world as opposed, say, to scientific data and phenomena.

Narrative is used to tell stories that arise either from the imagination or from reality. The set of conventions that make up narrative affect both the form and structure of the eventual story in ways that help make it emotionally engaging: it...

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