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English Literature ‘Frameworks’ 9: Alternative Interpretations

Steph Atkinson | Sunday October 31, 2010

Categories:

Guide Navigation

  1. Close Reading & Textual Analysis
  2. Close Analysis
  3. Openings
  4. Characters and Characterisation
  5. Setting, Places and Scenes
  6. Atmosphere, Mood, Tone and Foreshadowing
  7. Dialogue
  8. Description, Imagery, Figurative Language
  9. Irony
  10. Alternative Interpretations
  11. Narrative
  12. Verisimilitude
  13. Time
  14. Symbolism
  15. Context
  16. Genre

Introduction

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The ninth in the Englishedu series on ‘frameworks’ for A Level English Literature, this guide explores and exemplifies an important requirement of many A-level English Literature teaching units, that students show how their own interpretation of a literary text is informed by their understanding that other possible interpretations exist, i.e. ‘alternative interpretations’.

‘Alternative Interpretations’: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

The most straightforward way of demonstrating how to closely analyse a text in terms of the theme above 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 Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

‘Who could want me?’ I asked inwardly, as with both hands I turned the stiff door-handle, which, for a second or two, resisted my efforts. ‘What should I see besides aunt Reed in the apartment: a man or a woman?’ The handle turned, the door unclosed, and passing through and curtseying low I looked up...


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