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Literature

VCE Literature Close Analysis: Introduction

by
Jarrod McAleese

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VCE Literature Close analysis

The Unit 3/4 Literature exam is just under 70 days away and it is at this point that students should be practicing VCE Literature Close Analysis essays and working to improve their writing. One of the most prominent questions I receive from students is this: “do I need to write an introduction?”. This is usually followed with “how do I write an introduction?”. Firstly, yes, I believe all students should be writing introductions as they are an excellent way to showcase your ability to provide an insight into your personal “reading” of the text, interpret the passages and allow you an avenue through which to begin your discussion of the material. In this guide, I will be explaining two of the key elements to be utilised to create a strong introduction.

When constructing introductions, it is important to note that the VCAA Literature Exam Criteria is as follows:

  • understanding of the text demonstrated in a relevant and plausible interpretation
  • ability to write expressively and coherently to present an interpretation
  • understanding of how views and values may be suggested in the text
  • analysis of how key passages and/or moments in the text contribute to an interpretation
  • analysis of the features of a text and how they contribute to an interpretation
  • analysis and close reading of textual details to support a coherent and detailed interpretation of the text

Considering these points, your introduction should feature these 2 elements: your personal reading of the text and your interpretation of the passages.

Your personal reading is simply your perception of the text. Though the key facets of the text such as the plot and the characters are generally viewed by the majority in a similar fashion, each student will have their own opinions of the text. This can range from resonating with particular scenes or placing a greater emphasis on a certain concept or relationship.

Your interpretation of the passages is the way in which you view the excerpts given to you. Akin to your personal reading, the core aspects of the passages will likely be viewed similarly by most students, however your point of difference will come from how you perceive the passages suggest views and values and how features and moments contribute to an interpretation (factors coming from the criteria).

In terms of structure, try to begin with a sentence or two explaining your personal reading of the text. The key to doing so in a manner befitting Close Analysis however, is to utilise quotes from the passages to supplement your assertion.

Here is a sample written about George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion.

George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion” contrasts the absence of morality in the titled upper class of 19th century England who dehumanise common citizens as “pebbles on the beach” and the under privileged but morally conscious lower class, “intimidated” by the socio-economic chasm, but living with “middle class morality”.

This highlights my personal reading of Pygmalion as a whole, supported by quotes from the passages I was provided.

To build on this, proceed by writing a sentence or two that demonstrates your interpretation of the passages and how they discuss views and values and create meaning.

Though Shaw implies that one can ascend the ranks through Doolittle’s “lecturing them blue in the face” and Eliza’s gradual self-actualisation, ultimately Shaw quashes any prospect of one permanently invading the upper class by deploying the repetitive “I will” catchphrase throughout Eliza’s ventures. The indefatigable delivery ironically conveys the notion that in spite of Eliza’s effort, she “won’t” achieve.

In these sentences I have commented briefly on the events within the passages and utilised them to exemplify how they are utilised to delve into views and values and create meaning in the overall context of the text. These factors encompass my interpretation of the passages.

Introductions which contain these two key features will score well as they directly target numerous parts of the assessment criteria. This allows students to explicitly outline their overall reading of the text in a style which will efficiently show off your writing skills.

Jarrod McAleese

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