The Right Analysis

Ever got a text for English and thought, “How am I supposed to analyse this?!!!” After your momentary breakdown you set it aside and viola! Your essay is due in a week. Sometimes we focus too much on the thickness of a book or the amount of ‘hard words’ on the page and forget about the techniques that are screaming, “I’m here! I’m here!”

Sitting with my sister recently, I helped her analyse Queen Elizabeth I’s “The Golden Speech”, and even I have to admit, I was not willing at all to deconstruct that speech. It was only two and a half pages long, but let me tell you, it was full of ‘hard words’ that you needed to open a dictionary every two sentences! But you know what, we found it a lot easier to deconstruct the speech together than separately. Here are a few tips that I’ve learned analysing with my sister:

  1. MAKE SURE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR. That just means, have a list of techniques beside you. Analysing is like going on a treasure hunt, each technique you find is a mark on the map, but how you use them in your essay is where the ‘X’ marks the spot. If you’re not sure about techniques, ask you teachers for a list orGoogle, ‘List of Literary Techniques’. I suggest going to your teacher first, that way you know what you should be using for your text.
  2. READ ALOUD. This is a lot easier if the text is not that long. If it is too long, take it chapter by chapter. What’s really great about high school texts is that they give you what to look for, what I mean is, you have a topic (e.g. Fantasy) that helps you know what you need. So all you need to do after finding the techniques is see how it links into your given topic.
  3. TAKE IT PARAGRAPH BY PARAGRAPH. You need to realise that analysing your texts need time. You can’t just jump in and hope that you’ll remember something you read by just re-reading the page or chapter – you need to jog you memory. Going paragraph by paragraph helps you see it from a big picture as well as help you study each sentence carefully for techniques that the author uses.
  4. USE A HIGHLIGHTER/WRITE IT DOWN. There are a lot of people out there who hate the idea of writing in their texts, so I suggest write the quote down – but by all means, if you don’t mind, highlight or underline important sentences to help you remember. What I do is highlight/underline the sentence or two and write down the technique. My sister highlights the section but writes notes on it on a separate page. There are just two different examples that you can use (together or separately).

I hope these tips can help you the next time you’re deconstructing a text. Remember, it’s not about the thickness or the difficulty of your text. It’s about the amount of time you put into working out what you need to breakdown for the text. The more you break the text down, the easier it will be for you to write you essay.

– Anvie.

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