Reading Files

Reading Files

Paper 1—The Passage Based Essay
Simple Guidelines

Skills Tested
Informed critical response
Understanding of literary context
Analysis & evaluation of choices of form, structure & language in shaping meaning

Sample Question
How characteristic of the writing in Wide Sargasso Sea are the methods used in the following passage?
Write a critical commentary on the following passage, showing what you find typical of Rhys’ style and concerns in the novel.
Write a critical analysis of the following passage, highlighting ways in which Rhys creates character and tension at this point in the novel.
Look closely at Rhys’ methods and concerns in the following passage from Wide Sargasso Sea. How characteristic is it of the rest of the novel?
Write a close critical commentary on the following passage, paying particular attention to the presentation of Antoinette’s thoughts and feelings at this point in the novel.

How do I do this?
Structuring your essay
There should be a clearly defined introduction, body and conclusion
Remember: “Tell them what you’re about to tell them; tell them; then tell them what you’ve just told them”

Introduction i.e. Tell them what you’re about to tell them
Your introduction should define your approach
This helps you and your examiner gain a sense of what you are about to write.
If you don’t manage to finish your essay it also helps your examiner give you some credit for the arguments you would have developed
Contextualise the extract
Identify the significance of the particular extract:
e.g. it is the point in the novel when we first encounter a particular character, or it forms the turning point, or is significant in the presentation of a particular theme etc.
Do not write an all-purpose introduction that could be inserted into any essay.

Tell them
Do not paraphrase the passage. It’s an open book paper- you get no points for memory work
When identifying techniques comment on them. Don’t just say ‘in...

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