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A Level English Literature | Guide to Narrative Analysis

Steve Campsall | Monday November 11, 2019

Categories: Archived Resources, KS5 Archive, AQA A Level, AQA A Level Pre-2015 Resources, AQA A Level English Literature A, LTA1, LITA2, LITA3, LITA4, AQA A Level English Literature B, LITB1, LITB2, LITB3, LITB4, Hot Entries

Although analysing a text at the level of narrative is a direct requirement of some English Literature courses 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.

Many 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 is this aspect that enables the story form to transmit and persuasively carry its author’s themes – the ideas, thoughts and feelings about some aspect of life that lie, often, ‘beneath’ the story’s ‘surface’. It is because these forms and structures have become conventionalised that it is easy to miss their presence and thus the often highly persuasive effect they can have on a reader.

As suggested above, it is the themes of a piece of writing – the thoughts, ideas and feelings about life or society that often arise from a writer...


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