SENTENCE WRITING FROM DESCRIPTION TO INTERPRETATION TO ANALYSIS TO SYNTHESIS. From Cambridge Checkpoints HSC English by Dixon and Simpson, p.8.

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1 SENTENCE WRITING FROM DESCRIPTION TO INTERPRETATION TO ANALYSIS TO SYNTHESIS From Cambridge Checkpoints HSC English by Dixon and Simpson, p.8. Analysis is not the same as description. It requires a much higher level of thinking and shows that you are going beyond the subject matter to draw conclusions about the ideas in texts. A good essay will still use description when necessary, but this will lead to the higher order approaches of interpretation, analysis and synthesis. Description is simply telling the reader what the text is about. It is like a recount or plot summary or just describing a section closely. Interpretation means that you explain words and ideas. Analysis means that you go outside the text and search for a hidden meaning that links different parts of the text with values and beliefs in society; this shows the real thinking behind the composer s choices of language. Synthesis is the most difficult thinking as it requires you to start linking ideas from different parts of the text/s and go outside the text/s to find connections. Look at these four ways of discussing place in a text: Description: Two of Skrzynecki s poems are called 10 Mary Street and St Patrick s College and are about his home and school life. Interpretation: The titles of Skrzynecki s poems 10 Mary Street and St Patrick s College show us that the poems are based on real places and are factual. Analysis: Place is a significant factor in Skrzynecki s poetry. Even his titles draw our attention to the fact that he sees his life through place, though the simple and factual nature of the titles also suggests that his feelings about place may be ambivalent. Synthesis: A constant feature of most of Skrzynecki s poems is the search for belonging and what it means for a migrant who has to renegotiate the relationship between self and place. The School For Excellence 2016 Summer School Year 11 English Book 1 Page 13

2 ACTIVITY Are these sentences examples of descriptions, interpretation, analysis or synthesis? The violence and evil of Macbeth is transformed into Japanese Kabuki fight scenes with bamboo sticks in the Zen Zen Zo performance. The pathos of Lady Macbeth s death scene and the clear suffering that she has endured, albeit through her own actions, is presented in slow motion with carefully choreographed arm movements showing her despair. Zeferelli s Lady Macbeth is a gentle figure who fails to negate her femininity but it is this femininity which attracts Macbeth and draws him on. When Othello says he wants to be remembered as one who loved not wisely but too well, he is casting blame for his actions on Desdemona and his relationship with her. The School For Excellence 2016 Summer School Year 11 English Book 1 Page 14

3 PARAGRAPH WRITING AND QUOTATION Quotations should never be added as a separate sentence. They have to be linked to the ideas they are discussing and explained properly as this proves that you are interpreting and analysing the text. Note how the quotations are integrated into the paragraph below about Othello. Othello is often studied in Year 11 courses. This paragraph is a close reading of one scene, demonstrating how to discuss an extract. The passion of their initial response to each other takes on a more physical dimension in Act 2, when there is often mention of the bed to which Desdemona and Othello retire. On her arrival in Cyprus, Iago is very derogatory, describing women to Desdemona as sexual creatures who rise to play and go to bed to work. He goes further and talks of the union of black and white reversing her relationship and maligning the woman who be black and witty and finds a white that shall her blackness fit. The coarse language is very different to the language of love in the Duke s palace but Desdemona manages to hold her own, showing her ability to stand up to criticism. Othello s expression of love when he enters is in sharp contrast to Iago s coarseness referring to Desdemona in religious terms as my soul s joy and combining both classical and religious allusions in the mention of Olympus high and heaven his feeling that he is escaping hell when he sees her (as hell s from heaven) is ironic, given the final scene. Further irony comes in the words of Desdemona which also foreshadow her end when she declares The heavens forbid/ But that our loves ad comforts should increase,/ Even as our days do grow. Desdemona and Othello are breaking the rules of polite society in declaring themselves so openly to be in love. They are revealing themselves as acting outside the norm. The implication of sexuality would have had a very negative reaction from the Elizabethan audience but would have been further sign of Desdemona s imperfect nature. ACTIVITY Find the topic sentence and see if all the sentences prove the topic. Note how the quotations are integrated. Find examples of description, interpretation, analysis and synthesis. The School For Excellence 2016 Summer School Year 11 English Book 1 Page 15

4 LINKING IDEAS IN THE ESSAY A successful essay links ideas between paragraphs and sentences. By linking you are showing how one idea relates to the one before and leads to the next. This can be done in two ways: Using cohesive devices (linking words). Creating a lexical connection to a word in the sentence before. EXAMPLES OF CONNECTIVES AND OTHER SIGNAL WORDS Reference: Thus, therefore, former, latter, as follows, respectively, so, if not, if so. Example: For example, for instance, such as, exemplified by/in, can be seen in. Cause: Makes, produces, causes, results in, affects, brings about, conveys, gives rise to, creates, accounts for, owing to, due to, on account of, the result of, because, since. Reasons: Because, for, since, as. Change: Is transformed, is converted, is influenced by, is affected by. Effect: As a result, thereby, because of, consequently, subsequently, hence, thus, therefore, resulting in, in that case. Requirement: Depends on. Conclusion: Thus, therefore, in conclusion, to conclude, ultimately, finally, it can therefore be seen that, we can conclude, overall. Purpose: In order that, so as to, in order to, so that. Conditions: If, in the case of, in that case, on the condition that, provided that, so long as, unless, if not, but for. Addition: And, as well (as), also, besides, additionally, in conjunction with, together with, similarly, furthermore, moreover, another, even, both. Restriction: Only, just, merely, simply, apart from. Alternative: Either or, whether or (not), alternatively, instead of, otherwise, or else. Contrast: But, although, whereas, even though, while, in contrast, on the other hand, alternately, nevertheless, notwithstanding, even so, yet, however, unlike, conversely. Similarity: Like, in the same way, resemble, in common, likewise, as if, as though, just as so alike. Component parts: Consist of, is made up of, is composed of, is comprised of, subsequently, initially. The School For Excellence 2016 Summer School Year 11 English Book 1 Page 16

5 A COMPARATIVE ESSAY METHOD 1 In both Standard and Advanced courses you will be required to write essays comparing two or more texts (in the Area of Study, Modules A and C). There are a few ways of doing this. Here are two methods. INTRODUCTION Answers the question with a thesis that links all the texts E.g. Journeys can be a source of learning and growth but only if the person on the journey is open and receptive. This is what we see in the two texts and where the first text shows how a positive view can be enhancing and the second text shows the negative consequences of not accepting new experiences. Names the texts and authors. Can state the form of each text. BODY Method One: Discuss one text first, then text two in relation to the thesis, making comparisons after the two text are discussed. Method Two: Use ideas to lead the paragraphs with a clear indication in every paragraph of how the two texts fit together. CONCLUSION Offers an overview of the comparisons between both texts while reinforcing the thesis. Note: The School For Excellence 2016 Summer School Year 11 English Book 1 Page 17

6 METHOD TWO This requires some thinking about the two texts and the topic being discussed. You will need to focus on ideas that provide comparison or contrast. If done well this can lead to synthesis, a higher order thinking skill. Doing one text and then the other will not endanger your marks as long as some attempt is made to bring together the discussion of texts. SAMPLE COMPARATIVE ESSAY Texts: Montana, 1948 and To Kill a Mockingbird Every novel tells a story and that story is about the way a life is lived. Two novels that tell their story are Montana 1948 and To Kill a Mockingbird. Despite their superficial differences, on closer reading the texts reveal many similarities in setting, characterisation, style and themes. The texts are both set in America, but that in itself is hardly a point of similarity. Montana is a dry arid area, quote.. in the centre of America, a place which is identified as part of the wild west which took place in the end of the nineteenth century. The title indicates the place and date and implies the importance of place in the scheme of the book. 1948, after the Second World War is far removed from the Wild West. To Kill a Mockingbird is also far removed from the Wild West, being located in the deep south in Mississippi. The town is.quote. The date is the 1930s, before the Second World War, so, on the surface there are no similarities beyond the American connection. As the stories progress, however, the connections become clearer. Both are small towns, both are sleepy places where family history is important, both are hiding places for eccentrics and both contain marginalised groups, American Indians in Montana 1948, and American Negroes in To Kill a Mockingbird. Apart from these points of comparison, both have a strong hold on the American psyche there are connotations about the setting that any American would understand and perceive. Montana and Maycomb might be far from their roots in time but implicit in each place is a set of values about people and beliefs about how to live life and these values are founded in the past. This includes the way marginalised people live their lives and the way justice is served. This is the real connection between the books. Apart from this issue the characters themselves demonstrate remarkable similarities. Wesley Hayden is the sheriff, the son of the sheriff and an established leader in his community because of his family background. Atticus Finch is also part of the establishment in Maycomb. Like Wesley Hayden, he administers justice but not as a sheriff but as a lawyer. Both protagonists are law-abiding men of principle and both characters are placed in difficult situations where it becomes their duty to defend the rights of the marginalised group. For Wesley, the decision is made even harder because he has to arrest his own brother. The events that trigger this crisis in each book revolve around the relationship between the marginalised group and the dominant group. In Montana, the Hayden s Indian housekeeper dies in suspicious circumstances soon after she has declared the sheriff s brother to be a rapist of Indian women. Wesley has to make a hard decision: can he live with his conscience if he does not defend the rights of the reservation Indian women against his own brother? The School For Excellence 2016 Summer School Year 11 English Book 1 Page 18

7 Atticus does not have quite as difficult a decision to make because it does not directly involve his family but he has to face the consequences of becoming an outcast when he defends an American Negro, Tom Robinson, of raping a white girl. The rape situation is reversed in each text but the crisis is the same: both men find their principles challenged. Their stories are told by their children. Scout Finch, in To Kill a Mockingbird, narrates the events of her childhood, and the process of growing into the adult world. As she unfolds her father s story, we see her growth from innocence into experience. We hear her beliefs change and adapt. The same change takes place in the life of David Hayden. He realises the vulnerability of adults as he sees their weaknesses, especially those of his uncle, emerge. He starts to see his parents in a new light. With this knowledge comes experience and with experience comes entry into the adult world. Both texts are in their own way examples of rites of passage. These two seemingly dissimilar books have had a major impact on American readers. They have both become bestsellers part of the canon of American texts because both ask Americans to have a closer look at themselves, rewrite their history and acknowledge the place of their marginalised people. Both texts ask for justice for all and defend the creed of the American people that all people are born equal. These stories of different lives give us a guide for the way life should be lived and it is because of this that the books have become great. The School For Excellence 2016 Summer School Year 11 English Book 1 Page 19

8 LOOKING CLOSELY AT THE ESSAY Introduction What is the thesis of the essay? (point of view) What is the plan of development? (the outline of the areas to be examined in the essay) Does the essay follow the plan of development in the order suggested in the introduction? Paragraphs Does each paragraph have a topic sentence? Does each paragraph connect to the paragraph before? Is there enough explanation of the topic in each paragraph? Are examples given to support the topic? Are there enough quotations from the books? Find places where more could be added. Can you find any paraphrased evidence? Is everything contextualised? (If you didn t know the books is there enough evidence/explanation for you to follow the main ideas?) Sentences Find an example of a contrasting sentence. Find an example of a comparison sentence. Find an example of a connective word. Description/ Interpretation/ Analysis Find examples of plot summary (describing the story). Find examples of interpretation (understanding the story s underlying ideas). Find examples of analysis (understanding the larger message of the text). Find examples of synthesis (bringing together different parts of the two texts). The School For Excellence 2016 Summer School Year 11 English Book 1 Page 20

9 ESSAY CHECKLIST Structure and Content Does the essay follow the correct essay format? Does the introduction respond to the topic? Does the introduction give a plan of development? Is enough information given to answer the question? Does the body of the essay deal with one idea only per paragraph? Has each paragraph answered the question? Do the paragraphs explain their focus and offer supporting evidence? Do the ideas flow smoothly in each paragraph? Are the paragraphs connected to each other? Does the conclusion sum up the ideas of the essay? Language and Sentence Structure Has the essay used appropriately formal language? Has the essay used a variety of sentence structures simple, and complex? Does the essay use interesting and appropriate vocabulary? Does the essay avoid the use of the first person? Does the essay use correct English spelling, grammar, punctuation? Audience Does the essay convince the reader? The School For Excellence 2016 Summer School Year 11 English Book 1 Page 21

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