This GCSE English Literature quiz takes a look at language. Language in My Mother Said I Never Should by Charlotte Keatley draws on emotion, relationship, childhood rhymes, birth, life, work, protest and death. The language is simple, clear and modern, which makes the richness of its subtext all the more outstanding. The women in the play can barely communicate to one another without causing offence or dragging up old grievances. Interspersed with the scenes set in real time are those of the Wasteground, in which the characters as children communicate in the long-remembered superstitious short-hand of the playground.
Texts are understood primarily through the language with which they are written and read. All authors choose individual words, phrases and imagery with precision. Paying very close attention to the detail of language will help you to begin to understand the symbolic meanings and associations which lie beyond the obvious literal meanings. Imagery, such as metaphor, simile and personification, and other literary effects, are created through an author’s skilful and thoughtful use of language. The effective creation of setting, characterisation and dialogue also depend on an author’s care and ability in using language.
Paying very close attention to the language of a text will help you to increase your understanding dramatically. Find time to linger over the words and imagery, thinking about the multiple possible meanings which exist in addition to the surface meaning. Ask yourself what each individual choice of words, or combinations of words, might suggest. Note any ideas that come to mind as you read. Any time and care which you devote to the language will be repaid by an increased ability to analyse literature.
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