Category Archives: Textual Analysis

Textual Analysis Practice

Please read the following article in The Scotsman newspaper.

http://www.scotsman.com/news/comment-referendum-won-t-end-independence-debate-1-3134183

Print it out and annotate it, identifying all examples of imagery, sentence structure, word choice, tone and sound.

Textual Analysis Practice

Read this extract from ‘Oliver Twist,’ by Charles Dickens, answering the questions that follow.

The room in which the boys were fed was a large stone hall, with a copper at one end; out of which the master, dressed in an apron for the purpose, and assisted by one or two women, ladled the gruel at mealtimes. Of this festive composition the boys had one porringer and no more – except on occasions of public rejoicing when he had two ounces and a quarter of bread besides. The bowls never wanted washing. The boys polished them with their spoons again till they shone again; and when they had performed this operation (which never took very long, the spoons being nearly as large as the bowls), they would sit staring at the copper, with such eager eyes, as if they could have devoured the very bricks of which it was composed; employing themselves meanwhile, in sucking their fingers most assiduously, with the view of catching up any stray splashes of gruel that might have been cast thereon. Boys have generally excellent appetites. Oliver Twist and his companions suffered the tortures of slow starvation for three months. At last they got so voracious and wild with hunger, that one boy who was tall for his age, hinted darkly to his companions that unless he had another basin of gruel, he was afraid he might some night happen to eat the boy sleeping next to him, who happened to be a weakly youth of tender age. He had a wild, hungry eye and they implicitly believed him. A council was held; lots were cast for who should walk up to the master after supper that evening and ask for more; and it fell to Oliver Twist.

The evening arrived; the boys took their places. The master, in his cook’s uniform, stationed himself at the copper; his pauper assistants ranged themselves beside him; the gruel was served out; and a long grace was said over short commons. The gruel disappeared; the boys whispered to each other and winked at Oliver; while his next neighbours nudged him. Child as he was, he was desperate with hunger, and reckless with misery. He rose from the table; and advancing to the master, basin and spoon in hand, said, somewhat alarmed at his own temerity,-

“Please, sir, I want some more.”

The master was a fat, healthy man; but he turned very pale. He gazed with stupified astonishment on the small rebel for some seconds; and then clung for support to the copper. The assistants were paralyzed with wonder, the boys with fear.

“What!” said the master at length, in a faint voice.

“Please, sir,” replied Oliver, “I want some more.”

The master aimed a blow at Oliver’s head with the ladle, pinioned him in his arms, and shrieked aloud for the beadle.

Questions

1) How does the author use sentence structure to convey the hunger of the boys in paragraph 1. (3)

2) How does the context of “temerity,” in the 2nd paragraph help you to understand its meaning? (2)

3) How does the author use word choice in the 4th paragraph to convey the reaction of the master to Oliver’s request? (2)

4) How effective is Charles Dickens in conveying the contrast between those who distributed the food and those who ate it. (3)

Textual Analysis Practice

Read the following Robert Frost poem and answer the questions below. Please bring your answers and a copy of the poem to class tomorrow.

Design

I found a dimpled spider, fat and white,
On a white heal-all, holding up a moth
Like a white piece of rigid satin cloth -
Assorted characters of death and blight
Mixed ready to begin the morning right,
Like the ingredients of a witches’ broth -
A snow-drop spider, a flower like a froth,
And dead wings carried like a paper kite.

What had that flower to do with being white,
The wayside blue and innocent heal-all?
What brought the kindred spider to that height,
Then steered the white moth thither in the night?
What but design of darkness to appall?
If design govern in a thing so small.

Robert Frost

______________________________________________________________________________________

a) In what ways does the choice of words to describe the spider in line 1 seem inappropriate or surprising?

b) Explain how the poet suggests fragility and beauty in the following images:

         “a moth / like a white piece of satin cloth”

         “dead wings carried like a paper kite.”

Textual Analysis Practice

 

 SOFIA’S STORY

 The call to wake comes early at6.00 a.m, but my eyes are already open. Sleep                   1

did not come easily last night. I am waiting Enriqueta, my mother, taps softly

at the door and then, as I do not answer, she raps a little louder and slowly pushes

her head into my room. I see her face illuminated from the side by the ray of brilliant

late summer sunshine falling in behind her and my eyes flood with angry                            5

tears. Invisible pain. She can’t see it as I push my own face deeper into the blanket

and murmur, unconvincingly, that I have only just awoken.  She leaves the room

without speaking a word and I pull myself from the bed to dress. It will be my

birthday this time next month.

 

Outside in the parlour my older brother waits impatiently, kicking his feet absent-         10

mindedly at one leg of our heavy table as she fusses with his collar. ‘You must look

smart, Jordi,’ she mutters at his childishly mute ears, ‘we have done nothing to be

ashamed of, nothing.’

 

Today is the day that I am to be returned to my ‘real’ family.

 

The February light is bright as I step from the house to join them. Perhaps it was          15

because I was born at this time of the year that I believe it to be the most beautiful,

and I stop for a second or two to take one last look at our garden_ and to flick my eyes

over our happy family house. The same old question races frantically through my

mind, ‘Why me? Why me?’, but I am never any closer to finding an answer. Today

the terror and disgust is so much stronger. I feel the bile rise and fall in bitter waves.  20

 

My mother looks at me from far away, long before I have reached the spot where

they wait beside the motor car.  The motor car with its engine running.  Ready.  Her

eyes are staring hard at me and although I want to look away, I cannot.  I love this

woman with all my heart.  She is my mother.

 

As I reach her shaking body, heavily wrapped despite the warmth of this radiant            25

Argentine morning, she drops my brother’s hand and flings herself around me in

a tangle of arms, shawl and unfaltering love.  I cry out loud as if shot by a bullet

and the stab of separation pierces through me.  I have anticipated the arrival of this

stabbing ache many times before today but now it is finally here and I slump heavily

into her embrace, almost unable to stand.  Almost unable to endure this moment.  It       30

is a bleak, hard prospect for one so young that I will now suffer this torment every

single day of my life ahead.  Every single day of my new life with my “real” family.

I hate them already.  I do not want to go.

 

HIGHER TEXTUAL ANALYSIS – “Sofia’s Story”

 

1

Paragraph 1

 

How does the behaviour of (a) Sofia and (b) Enriqueta suggest that the atmosphere is tense and strained?                                                                                                                               (U) (3)

 

 

2

Why are there inverted commas around the world “real” in the phrase “real” family in line 14?

(A) (1)

 

 

3

Paragraphs 1 – 4 (lines 1 -20)

 

Apart form the fact that Sofiais about to be separated from Enriqueta and her brother, Jordi, which two additional factors would have contributed to her distress on this particular morning.

(U) (2)

 

 

4

Lines 19 & 20

 

Today the terror and disgust is so much stronger. I feel the bile rise and fall in bitter waves.

 

Analyse how word choice in these lines contributes to our understanding ofSofia’s feelings.

(A) (4)

 

 

5

Paragraph 5: line 22

 

“The motor car with its engine running.  Ready.”

 

Evaluate the contribution to atmosphere made by these two sentences.                        (E & A) (2)

 

 

6

Paragraph 6: lines 30 & 32

 

“almost unable” / “every single day”

 

What is the effect of the use of repetition in these lines?                                   (A) (2)

 

 

7

What advantages or disadvantages can you see in using first person narrator (“I”) to tell this story?                                                                                                                                    (A) (2)

 

 

8

“a tangle of arms, shawl and unfaltering love” (line 27)

 

Comment on the effectiveness of this expression.                                                         (E & A) (3)

 

 

9

What evidence is there in the extract to suggest that Sofiais a child who is capable of very intense emotions?  You evidence may come from anywhere in the extract.                    (U & A) (4)

 

 

10

This is an account of a very emotional scene.  How successful do you think the writer is in controlling this emotion?

 

In your response, you may wish to consider the role of such aspects as structure, character and language.                                                                                                                         (E & A) (6)

Textual Analysis Practice

Read this extract from ‘Oliver Twist,’ by Charles Dickens, answering the questions that follow. 

The room in which the boys were fed was a large stone hall, with a copper at one end; out of which the master, dressed in an apron for the purpose, and assisted by one or two women, ladled the gruel at mealtimes. Of this festive composition the boys had one porringer and no more – except on occasions of public rejoicing when he had two ounces and a quarter of bread besides. The bowls never wanted washing. The boys polished them with their spoons again till they shone again; and when they had performed this operation (which never took very long, the spoons being nearly as large as the bowls), they would sit staring at the copper, with such eager eyes, as if they could have devoured the very bricks of which it was composed; employing themselves meanwhile, in sucking their fingers most assiduously, with the view of catching up any stray splashes of gruel that might have been cast thereon. Boys have generally excellent appetites. Oliver Twist and his companions suffered the tortures of slow starvation for three months. At last they got so voracious and wild with hunger, that one boy who was tall for his age, hinted darkly to his companions that unless he had another basin of gruel, he was afraid he might some night happen to eat the boy sleeping next to him, who happened to be a weakly youth of tender age. He had a wild, hungry eye and they implicitly believed him. A council was held; lots were cast for who should walk up to the master after supper that evening and ask for more; and it fell to Oliver Twist.

The evening arrived; the boys took their places. The master, in his cook’s uniform, stationed himself at the copper; his pauper assistants ranged themselves beside him; the gruel was served out; and a long grace was said over short commons. The gruel disappeared; the boys whispered to each other and winked at Oliver; while his next neighbours nudged him. Child as he was, he was desperate with hunger, and reckless with misery. He rose from the table; and advancing to the master, basin and spoon in hand, said, somewhat alarmed at his own temerity,-

“Please, sir, I want some more.”

The master was a fat, healthy man; but he turned very pale. He gazed with stupified astonishment on the small rebel for some seconds; and then clung for support to the copper. The assistants were paralyzed with wonder, the boys with fear.

“What!” said the master at length, in a faint voice.

“Please, sir,” replied Oliver, “I want some more.”

The master aimed a blow at Oliver’s head with the ladle, pinioned him in his arms, and shrieked aloud for the beadle.

Questions

1) How does the author use sentence structure to convey the hunger of the boys in paragraph 1. (3)

2) How does the context of “temerity,” in the 2nd paragraph help you to understand its meaning? (2)

3) How does the author use word choice in the 4th paragraph to convey the reaction of the master to Oliver’s request? (2)

4) How effective is Charles Dickens in conveying the contrast between those who distributed the food and those who ate it. (3)

Textual Analysis – Directed Questions on ‘Emma.’

Reread the following extract from ‘Emma,’ by Jane Austin, answering the questions that follow. ______________________________________________________________

Never had the exquisite sight, smell, sensation of nature, tranquil, warm, and brilliant after a storm, been more attractive to her. She longed for the serenity they might gradually introduce, and … she lost no time ill hurrying into the shrubbery. – There, with spirits freshened and thoughts a little relieved, she had taken a few turns, when she saw Mr. Knightley passing through the garden door and coming towards her.

It was the first intimation of his being returned from London. She had been thinking of him the moment before as unquestionably sixteen miles distant. – There was time only for the quickest arrangement of mind. She must be collected and calm. In half a minute they were together. The “How d’ye do’s” were quiet and constrained on each side. She asked after their mutual friends; they were all well… He meant to walk with her, she found. “He had just looked into the dining-room, and as he was not wanted there, preferred being out of doors.”

She thought he neither looked nor spoke cheerfully; and the first possible cause for it, suggested by her fears, was, that he had perhaps been communicating his plans to his brother, and was pained by the manner in which they had been received. They walked together. He was silent. She thought he was often looking at her, and trying for a fuller view of her face than it suited her to give. And this belief produced another dread. Perhaps he wanted to speak to her, of his attachment to Harriet; he might be watching for encouragement to begin. She did not, could not, feel equal to lead the way to any such subject. He must do it all himself. Yet she could not bear this silence. With him it was most unnatural.

She considered – resolved – and, trying to smile, began – “You have some news to hear, now you are come back, that will rather surprise you.” “Have I?” said he quietly, and looking at her; “of what nature?” “Oh! the best nature in the world — a wedding.” After waiting a moment, as if to be sure she intended to say no more, he replied, “If you mean Miss Fairfax and Frank Churchill, I have heard that already.” “How is it possible?” cried Emma, turning her glowing cheeks towards him; for, while she spoke, it occurred to her that he might have called (on Harriet Smith) in his way. “I had a few lines on parish business from Mr. Weston this morning, and at the end of them he gave me a brief account of what had happened.”

Emma was quite relieved, and could presently say, with a little more composure, “You probably have been less surprised than any of us, for you have had your suspicions. – I have not forgotten that you once tried to give me a caution. – I wish I had attended to it – but -” (with a sinking voice and a heavy sigh) “I seem to have been doomed to blindness.” For a moment or two nothing was said, and she was unsuspicious of having excited any particular interest, till she found her arm drawn within his, and pressed against his heart, and heard him thus saying, in a tone of great sensibility, speaking low, “Time, my dearest Emma, time will heal the wound. — Your own excellent sense — your exertions for your father’s sake – I know you will not allow yourself. -” Her arm was pressed again, as he added, in a more broken and subdued accent, “The feelings of the warmest friendship – Indignation – Abominable scoundrel!” – And in a louder, steadier tone, he concluded with, “He will soon be gone. They will soon be in Yorkshire. I am sorry for her. She deserves a better fate.”

Emma understood him; and as soon as she could recover from the flutter of pleasure excited by such tender consideration, replied, “You are very kind – but you are mistaken – and I must set you right. – I am not in want of that sort of compassion.” _______________________________________________________________________

Questions

1. By referring to lines 1-2, show how the word choice and sentence structure highlight the beauty of nature for Emma at that moment. (4)

2. In Paragraph 3, what does Emma  think about the demeanour of Mr Knightley and how does she explain this to herself? Provide two pieces of evidence to support your answer. (3)  

3. How does the structure of the opening two lines of paragraph 4 affect our understanding of Emma’s state of mind? (2)

4. By the end of this passage, how do you feel towards the character of Emma OR Mr Knightley and why? You should support your answer with evidence from the whole extract.

Textual Analysis Practice – Emma

Below, you will find an extract from ‘Emma,’ by Jane Austin. Read this carefully, underlining all examples of the following:

• Interesting Word Choice

• Imagery

• Interesting Sentence Structure

Pick one example of each of these techniques and fully analyse it, explaining what it suggests to the reader.

This will form the basis of a class discussion tomorrow. Please ensure you have it with you.

_______________________________________________________________________

Never had the exquisite sight, smell, sensation of nature, tranquil, warm, and brilliant after a storm, been more attractive to her. She longed for the serenity they might gradually introduce, and … she lost no time ill hurrying into the shrubbery. – There, with spirits freshened and thoughts a little relieved, she had taken a few turns, when she saw Mr. Knightley passing through the garden door and coming towards her.

It was the first intimation of his being returned from London. She had been thinking of him the moment before as unquestionably sixteen miles distant. – There was time only for the quickest arrangement of mind. She must be collected and calm. In half a minute they were together. The “How d’ye do’s” were quiet and constrained on each side. She asked after their mutual friends; they were all well… He meant to walk with her, she found. “He had just looked into the dining-room, and as he was not wanted there, preferred being out of doors.”

She thought he neither looked nor spoke cheerfully; and the first possible cause for it, suggested by her fears, was, that he had perhaps been communicating his plans to his brother, and was pained by the manner in which they had been received. They walked together. He was silent. She thought he was often looking at her, and trying for a fuller view of her face than it suited her to give. And this belief produced another dread. Perhaps he wanted to speak to her, of his attachment to Harriet; he might be watching for encouragement to begin. She did not, could not, feel equal to lead the way to any such subject. He must do it all himself. Yet she could not bear this silence. With him it was most unnatural.

She considered – resolved – and, trying to smile, began – “You have some news to hear, now you are come back, that will rather surprise you.” “Have I?” said he quietly, and looking at her; “of what nature?” “Oh! the best nature in the world — a wedding.” After waiting a moment, as if to be sure she intended to say no more, he replied, “If you mean Miss Fairfax and Frank Churchill, I have heard that already.” “How is it possible?” cried Emma, turning her glowing cheeks towards him; for, while she spoke, it occurred to her that he might have called (on Harriet Smith) in his way. “I had a few lines on parish business from Mr. Weston this morning, and at the end of them he gave me a brief account of what had happened.”

Emma was quite relieved, and could presently say, with a little more composure, “You probably have been less surprised than any of us, for you have had your suspicions. – I have not forgotten that you once tried to give me a caution. – I wish I had attended to it – but -” (with a sinking voice and a heavy sigh) “I seem to have been doomed to blindness.” For a moment or two nothing was said, and she was unsuspicious of having excited any particular interest, till she found her arm drawn within his, and pressed against his heart, and heard him thus saying, in a tone of great sensibility, speaking low, “Time, my dearest Emma, time will heal the wound. — Your own excellent sense — your exertions for your father’s sake – I know you will not allow yourself. -” Her arm was pressed again, as he added, in a more broken and subdued accent, “The feelings of the warmest friendship – Indignation – Abominable scoundrel!” – And in a louder, steadier tone, he concluded with, “He will soon be gone. They will soon be in Yorkshire. I am sorry for her. She deserves a better fate.”

Emma understood him; and as soon as she could recover from the flutter of pleasure excited by such tender consideration, replied, “You are very kind – but you are mistaken – and I must set you right. – I am not in want of that sort of compassion.” _______________________________________________________________________

Textual Analysis – Prose Practice

Read the following passage and answer the questions that follow:

From right to left, along the lighted shore, moved a wild and gorgeous apparition of a woman. She walked with measured steps, draped in striped and fringed cloths, treading the earth proudly, with a slight jingle and flash of barbarous ornaments. She carried her head high; her hair was done in the shape of a helmet; she had brass leggings to the knee, brass wire gauntlets to the elbow, a crimson spot on her tawny cheek, innumerable necklaces of glass beads on her neck; bizarre things, charms, gifts of witchmen, that hung about her, glittered and trembled at every step.

She must have had the value of several elephant tusks upon her. She was savage and superb, wild-eyed and magnificent; there was something ominous and stately in her deliberate progress. And in the hush that had fallen suddenly upon the whole sorrowful land, the immense wilderness, the colossal body of the fecund and mysterious life seemed to look at her, pensive, as though it had been looking at the image of its own tenebrous and passionate soul.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Questions

1) How does the author use word choice in the first sentence to create an image of the woman? What is this image? (3)

2)  What is the effect of the word “proudly,” in the second sentence? (2)

3) In the last sentence of paragraph one, how does the author’s use of sentence structure and imagery add to your appreciation of the woman? (4)

4) How does the context of the word “tenebrous,” help you to arrive at its meaning? (2)

5) What is the effect of the author’s use of sound in paragraph two? (2)

6) Comment on the mood created by the author’s use of word choice in the final paragraph. (2)

7) What is the effect of the author’s use of sentence structure in the final sentence of the extract? (4)

 

Textual Analysis Practice

 

Read the following Robert Frost poem and answer the questions below. Please bring your answers and a copy of the poem to class tomorrow.

Design

I found a dimpled spider, fat and white,
On a white heal-all, holding up a moth
Like a white piece of rigid satin cloth -
Assorted characters of death and blight
Mixed ready to begin the morning right,
Like the ingredients of a witches’ broth -
A snow-drop spider, a flower like a froth,
And dead wings carried like a paper kite.

What had that flower to do with being white,
The wayside blue and innocent heal-all?
What brought the kindred spider to that height,
Then steered the white moth thither in the night?
What but design of darkness to appall?
If design govern in a thing so small.

Robert Frost

 

______________________________________________________________________________________

a) In what ways does the choice of words to describe the spider in line 1 seem inappropriate or surprising?

b) Explain how the poet suggests fragility and beauty in the following images:

         “a moth / like a white piece of satin cloth”

         “dead wings carried like a paper kite.”

 

Textual Analysis Practice

I have attached the first verse of Revelation, by Liz Lochhead. Read it and answer the questions that follow:

Revelation
I remember once being shown the black bull
when a child at the farm for eggs and milk.
They called him Bob – as though perhaps
you could reduce a monster
with the charm of a friendly name.
At the threshold of his outhouse, someone
held my hand and let me peer inside.
At first, only black
and the hot reek of him. Then he was immense,
his edges merging with the darkness, just
a big bulk and a roar to be really scared of,
a trampling, and a clanking tense with the chain’s jerk.
His eyes swivelled in the great wedge of his tossed head.
He roared his rage. His nostrils gaped like wounds.

1) With reference to word choice and sentence structure, consider how the poet, in the first five lines, conveys the idea that this was a memorable experience for this child? (4)

2) Show how the poet increases teh drama of the moment that the child sees the bull by reference to each of the following:

      (a) Sound (2)

      (b) Imagery (2)

3) Considering the author’s use of the word “reek,” what significance do smells have in this poem? (2)

4) How does the word choice suggest the bull’s rage? (4)

5) Why do you think the owners called the bull “Bob.” (2)

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