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English Literature ‘Frameworks’ 10: Narrative

Steph Atkinson | Thursday February 10, 2011

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Introduction

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The tenth in the EnglishEdu series on ‘frameworks’ for A Level English Literature.

This guide explores how to analyse narrative viewpoint in novels, short stories or prose extracts in order to allow students access to the highest grades.

Narrative viewpoint: Atonement by Ian McEwan

The most straightforward way of demonstrating how to analyse a text closely in terms of narrative viewpoint is to exemplify it. The extract below is followed by a series of bullet points which demonstrate how to analyse closely using carefully chosen quotations in a variety of ways. These bullet points also include commentaries which aim to explain how and why such sections have been analysed and what they could highlight within the main text, contextually and thematically.

There are, of course, many more things that could be said about each extract, but it’s hoped that it will prove useful in your initial teaching stages to model it using the examples and then to ask students to find other things that they could analyse themselves as well as to consider ‘alternative’ interpretations and to derive possible contextual aspects.

From Atonement by Ian McEwan

The play – for which Briony had designed the posters, programmes and tickets, constructed the sales booth out of a folding screen tipped on its side, and lined the collection box in red crêpe paper – was written by her in a two-day tempest of composition, causing her to miss a breakfast and a lunch. When the preparations were complete, she had nothing to do but contemplate her finished draft and wait for the appearance of her cousins from the distant north. There would be time for only one day of rehearsal before her brother arrived. At some moments chilling, at others desperately sad, the play told a tale of the heart whose message, conveyed in a rhyming prologue, was that love which did not build a foundation on good sense was doomed. The reckless passion of the heroine,...


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