Textual Analysis contents

Download 22,26 Kb.
Date conversion23.02.2017
Size22,26 Kb.

Textual Analysis


  • Introduction to Textual Analysis (slides 1 – 8)
  • Exploring Imagery – Metaphor, Simile & Personification (slides 9 – 24)
  • Exploring Figures of speech which involve Sound – Onomatopoeia & Alliteration (slides 25 – 31)
  • Exploring Word Choice (slides 32 – 34)
  • Exploring Structural techniques - Sentence structure, Punctuation & Repetition (slides 35 – 48)
  • Exploring Contrast (slides 49 – 51)
  • Exploring Attitudes (slides 52 – 54)
  • Exploring Endings (slides 55 – 56)


  • The Textual Analysis NAB is based on an extract from a short story, novel or play, or perhaps on a whole short poem.
  • You have to read the text carefully, and then answer questions on how it is written — the techniques the writer uses and the effects he or she creates.


  • Your Textual Analysis skills will also be useful in the Close Reading NAB and final Close Reading exam, where some questions will be marked with an A to show they are testing these skills.
  • The Textual Analysis NAB also overlaps with your study of literature. When you study a literature text you are really analysing it, and whenever you use the ITQEE structure (which you can learn about later in this powerpoint) to write about a text, you are being analytical.

So what will the focus be?

  • Writers choose every single word very carefully. They use a number of language techniques.
  • These techniques are also sometimes called the features of the text, or aspects of the text.


  • In this chapter you will learn to look carefully at the writer’s:
  • word choice: the words the writer deliberately uses
  • structure: the way the writer builds up sentences, or paragraphs, or the whole text
  • imagery: for example simile, metaphor and personification, in which the writer describes something by comparing it to something else, giving you a vivid image or picture in your mind
  • and a number of other techniques.


  • Just to remind you what these mean, we’ll examine them by using examples from the poem ‘In the Snack Bar’ by Edwin Morgan.
  • This poem tells a story, and you should be able to understand it fairly easily at first reading.


  • We will just use this poem to illustrate some techniques.
  • This is not the same thing as studying the poem, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will end up knowing it well enough to be able to write about it in your exam.


  • Similies
  • Metaphors
  • Personification.


  • Imagery is the term we use whenever a writer creates a picture in language.
  • If the words a writer uses immediately create a picture in your mind, then you’ve just encountered an image.
  • Some imagery techniques have particular names. Three of these are simile, metaphor and personification.



  • A simile is a figure of speech in which one thing is compared to another using like or as.
  • This gives a more vivid picture because of the similarity between the two things compared.
  • For example:
  • ‘We go together like Chinese food and chocolate pudding.’ Will Ferrell.
  • ‘That rock on your finger is like a tumour.’
  • Beyonce and Jay Z
  • ‘Life is like a pipe and I’m a tiny penny, rolling up the walls inside.’
  • Amy Winehouse.

Now try this….

  • Look at ‘In the Snack Bar’ by Edwin Morgan
  • Look at the simile below taken from the poem.
  • ‘Like a monstrous animal caught in a tent in some story.’

What does the simile suggest?

  • This suggests the size of the man, and shows how badly deformed he is as his disability has made him seem animal rather than human.
  • Comparing his gaberdine coat to a tent shows that it seems ill-fitting and looks wrong on him.

Another example…

Now try this…

  • What image does this suggest in your mind about the man’s hands?
  • Write your own sentence(s) starting with these words:
  • The simile ‘hands like wet leaves’ suggests….

Now try this…

  • There is another simile near the start of the second verse.
  • Find it, and write your own explanation of it as before.
  • The simile ‘A few yards of floor are like a landscape to be negotiated…’ suggests….



  • A metaphor is a comparison in which one thing is said to be another thing. Although this isn’t true, it makes a strong comparison.
  • For example:
  • That child is a pain.
  • Her room is a rubbish dump.

Metaphors vs Similes

  • You won’t find any metaphors in this poem, but you can find examples of metaphors in almost every poem you have studied.
  • Similes are easy to spot but metaphors are much more difficult. They do not always use the word is.
  • Sometimes we have to ask ourselves if what the writer is saying can be literally true.

Now try this…

  • Pair up with someone you know quite well. Create five metaphors to describe your partner.
  • Swap metaphors and see if you agree with each other’s descriptions.
  • Then choose one of the metaphors you created for your partner and try to explain the picture or image suggested by it. Write your own sentence(s) starting:
  • ‘The metaphor (quote it) suggests…’



  • In this figure of speech, an inanimate, non-living, object is written about as if it was a person or a living creature. For example:
  • The wind whistled through the sails.
  • The sun treads a path through the woods.

Now try this…

  • ‘The dismal hump
  • looming over him forces his head down.’
  • Can the hump on his back be pushing and forcing him? Of course not — it is not a living creature.
  • So what is Morgan suggesting by making the lump ‘seem’ alive?
  • Morgan is suggesting the hump seems alive because it looks as though it has deliberately pushed the man out of shape.

B) Figures of speech which involve SOUND 1. Onomatopoeia 2. Alliteration



  • When a word sounds like what it is describing, we call this onomatopoeia.
  • Words like thud, bang, splash, yawn and howl are all examples of this technique.
  • Most onomatopoeic words are to do with either sound or movement.
  • Onomatopoeia is used to make the writing sound more vivid.

Now try this…

  • An example of onomatopoeia in the poem is:
  • ‘slithering with a dull clatter’
  • Look at the quotation above.
  • Which is the onomatopoeic word?
  • In what way does that word’s sound suggest its meaning?
  • Write your own sentence(s) starting:
  • ‘The word (quote it) suggests…’



  • When letters or sounds are repeated at the beginnings of words we call this alliteration
  • For example:
  • Steve seldom smiled on Sundays.
  • Silently the spider spun its silken strands.
  • Alliteration makes you notice the words more and draws your attention to what the writer is saying.

Now try this

  • Look at the line below from the poem.
  • A cup capsizes along the formica
  • What effect does the alliteration in this line have?
  • Why do you think the writer began his poem this way?


Word Choice

  • Of course all words that a writer uses are chosen in some way.
  • But when we talk about word choice as a technique we mean that certain words are very carefully and deliberately chosen to obtain particular effects.

Now try this….

  • Answer the following questions about some of the word choice in the poem.
  • 1 What can we tell about the snack bar from the fact that the old man’s stool is ‘fixed to the floor’? (Line 5)
  • 2 What effect is created by the writer’s use of ‘dismal’ in line 7?
  • 3 What effect is created by the writer’s description of the man’s gaberdine coat as ‘stained, beltless’ in line 9?
  • 4 What effect is created by the writer’s use of the word ‘fumbling’ in line 20?
  • 5 Why does the writer use the word ‘contraption’ to describe the hand drier in line 56?

D) Structural techniques 1. Sentence structure 2. Punctuation 3. Repetition

Sentence structure

Sentence structure

  • Often Textual Analysis or Close Reading questions ask you to examine sentence structure.
  • You may be wondering where to start.
  • First, you will only be asked about the structure of a sentence if the examiners think there is something noticeable or unusual about it, so you can start by asking yourself these questions:

What do I notice….?

  • Length:
  • • Is the sentence noticeably short or long?
  • • What effect does this length have?
  • Sentence type:
  • • Does the sentence make a statement?
  • She’s a good girl.
  • • Is the sentence in the form of a question?
  • Is she a good girl?
  • • Is it an exclamation?
  • Good girl!
  • • Does it give a command or instruction?
  • Be a good girl for your granny.
  • Is the sentence in the form of a list?
  • • What effect does the sentence type have?


  • Word order:
  • • Have the words been placed in an unusual order?
  • • What effect does this have?
  • Grammar:
  • • Would the sentence make sense on its own, out of context?
  • • Is it a minor sentence, one without a verb?
  • She was a really good girl. Sometimes. Not always.
  • (Minor sentences, while not grammatically perfect, can often make a big impact. Writers can use them to add drama or emphasis.)
  • • What effect does the grammar of the sentence have?
  • Finally, ask yourself:
  • • Is there anything else unusual about the way the sentence is written?



  • Punctuation is part of sentence structure since it is used to shape sentences and to organise the words within them.
  • To be able to answer punctuation questions, you need to know what common punctuation marks are used for:


  • When do we use
  • commas ?
  • ,
  • When do we use
  • dashes ?
  • -
  • When do we use
  • Inverted commas ?
  • “ ”
  • to separate items in a list.
  • to introduce a quote.
  • to introduce direct speech.
  • to make the reader pause at certain times in a sentence.
  • to give extra information in a sentence.
  • to make the reader take a pause.
  • to mark out a word or phrase from the rest of the sentence (Maths is great – not.)
  • to show the words actually spoken
  • to show that we are talking about the title of a book or film or poem, etc.
  • to show that we are quoting someone else and these are not the writer’s own words.

More Punctuation…

  • When do we use
  • semi colons ?
  • ;
  • When do we use
  • colons ?
  • :
  • When do we use
  • ellipsis ?
  • ….
  • When do we use capital letters ?
  • to join two (or more) related ideas.
  • to separate items in a list when there are commas in the sentence already.
  • to join several sentences into one very long one.
  • to introduce a list.
  • to introduce a quote.
  • to give more information about an idea
  • .to punctuate a play.
  • Dots used to tail of a sentence.
  • To show gaps in a piece of writing.
  • at the beginning of a sentence.
  • for names.
  • for initials.
  • for the beginning of a section of direct speech.
  • for titles of books, newspapers, films, etc.for acronyms (like BBC or STV or CSI)

Now try this…

  • Look again at the poem and find:
  • A) At least three examples of dashes being used to create pauses. Quote each one, and explain why the writer wanted pauses there.
  • B) At least two examples of commas being used to create lists. Quote each one, and then explain why the writer used a list at that point.



  • Repetition is another structural technique: when a writer deliberately uses a word or phrase more often than you would normally expect.
  • One example of repetition in this poem is:
  • ‘And slowly we go down. And slowly we go down.’

What effect does this have…?

  • This also slows down the reader, making us pay more attention to the repeated words.
  • What does this example of repetition suggest?
  • Here, the repetition suggests the difficulty of the journey down the stairs.

Now try this…

  • Read lines 57 to 65 of the snack bar poem.
  • Find two more examples of repetition.
  • In each case, quote them, and explain what effect Morgan gets by using that technique here.

E) Contrast


  • A contrast is a form of opposite.
  • Whenever you get a question about contrast, to get full marks you need to look at both sides.
  • It’s not a contrast to say:
  • Jane is short and middle aged
  • but it is a contrast if you say:
  • While Jane is short and middle aged, Kenny is tall and young.

Now try this…

  • Read lines 63 to 65 of the poem. The writer twice uses contrasting, opposite pairs of words.
  • • How can the old man’s steps be at once ‘faltering’ and ‘unfaltering’?
  • • How can their journey across the floor be at once ‘endless’ and ‘not endless’?
  • • What overall effect does Morgan create by using contrasts in this way?

F) Attitude


  • Our attitude is how we feel about something, our opinion of it or reaction to it.
  • A writer’s attitude is often shown through other techniques, and you may need to read quite a large chunk of text before you can work out what the attitude is.

Now try this…

  • Re-read the poem. Then write a mini essay to explain the writer’s attitude to the man he helps. Use the opening below to help you, and back up the attitude identified with quotations from the poem.
  • The writer’s attitude towards the older man is that he feels sorry for him, yet in a way also admires him…

G) Endings


  • You will often be asked why the ending of a text is suitable. This might involve looking at the last line(s) of a poem, or the last sentence or paragraph of a prose text. Endings can be suitable in a number of ways. For example:
  • • the ending may sum up what the writer has been saying
  • • the ending may emphasis a point made in the text
  • the ending may be humorous
  • • the ending may give the reader something to think about
  • • the ending may refer neatly back to something found earlier in the text.

Now try this…

  • We are going to look at the ending of the poem in two ways.
  • 1 Read the whole of the last verse. In what ways is this a suitable ending to the poem? You answer should be a paragraph and you should use some quotations from that verse to justify what you say.
  • 2 Focus on the final line. In what way is this a suitable ending to the poem?

The database is protected by copyright ©sckool.org 2016
send message

    Main page