Analysis: the main purpose of analysis is to illuminate something, such as a concept, a text, an event, or a set of data, by examining its parts in detail.

Considerations for analyzing setting:

* The place, time, and social environment with which the action takes place

What are the most important locations in the work? Are they interior locations (inside houses, prisons, caves) or exterior ones? How extensively are they described?

During what historical period is the work set? What period of time does it encompass?

Does the work create a particular social environment: through the portrayal of manners, customs, and moral values?

Considerations for analyzing images and symbols:

Images: images are figures of speech, and more generally, descriptions of sensations.

Symbols: symbols are objects, actions, gestures, or patterns of images used to express a more abstract idea.

Are there figures of speech (metaphors, similes, personification) employed in the narrative or by the characters that seem significant because of repetition or placement (e.g. Hagar’s statement that she “turned to stone” the night her son John died in Margaret Laurence’s The Stone Angel)?

Are there descriptions of sensations (e.g. heat, cold, light, dark, colours, smells, sounds) that seem significant because of repetition or placement?

Are there any objects, actions, gestures, or images that have or take on a symbolic meaning?

    • conventional symbols – as a bishop’s mitre symbolizes religious power
    • universal symbols – a dove symbolizes peace
    • contextual symbols – the moon symbolizing romance in Romeo and Juliet.

Do images and symbols combine to form significant patterns of meaning (e.g.

food and eating in Margaret Atwood’s novel The Edible Woman)?

Connecting textual features to discover theme:

If the novel or story belongs to a particular genre (kind) of fiction, in what way does it conform to and depart from the conventions of the genre?

How does the narrative structure of the novel or story help to reveal character?

How does setting contribute to characterization and narrative structure? Are particular events or particular characters associated with particular places?

How do the elements of style (diction, image, and symbol, and sentence structure) help to portray action, setting, and character?

How do action, setting, characterization, style, point of view, and tone combine to convey the theme of the novel or story?
What is this theme?

What do they mean by Significance anyway?

Significance means that an individual component or part adds to the progression of another part and / or the entire work in some way. These components may be:

Characterization                      Mood

Setting                                     Plot

Symbols or Imagery                Theme

When looking for significant parts or scenes of any work, consider whether:

  1. the scene advances or complicates the plot.
  2. the scene shows character revelation or development.
  3. the scene reinforces an atmosphere or mood.
  4. the scene contains irony or dramatic irony (What’s that?!).
  5. the scene contains foreshadowing (of some future event – obviously!).
  6. the scene contains imagery (which underlines a theme of the play, novel).
  7. the scene contains suspense.
  8. the scene contains contrast.
  9. the scene contains parallelism for emphasis
  10. the scene arouses pathos (sympathy for a character).

Note: it is unlikely that a scene will do all of these.

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