Whenever you’re going to interpret a work, you are going to identify the author’s methods. Their tone, their use of language, their plot, major characters, setting.
Then, you’re going to decide on one of those aspects of the writing, pick just one, and evaluate and analyze that one aspect.
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The transcript is provided for your convenience
You want to give your opinion on what the author was trying to do with the use of this character, or with the use of a certain tone. What was their purpose in doing that?
But, you want to make it stronger, and one way that you can make your evaluation, your interpretation of this work stronger is to root your interpretation in the text.
That means, you go through, and you find specific examples in the text that support what your interpretation is. The examples from the text support your ideas. So, it doesn’t look like it’s just things that you’re coming up with out of your head, it’s things that you came up with because of something specific in the story that made you think.
So, one thing you can look at is quotes. Look at what characters say. This could be something that affects the tone, or it could be something that reflects on a character, or it could be something specific, letting you know what’s happening in the plot.
Look at details from the story. It could be how someone looks, so, physical characteristics. It could be specific things that happen in the plot. It could have to do with the tone as well, it could have to do with the specific language that the author used.
But, find those details, and then put them into your evaluation. Find these quotes, and put them into your interpretation.
So, if you’re trying to describe how a character acts, or how you felt about a character, go back and find something specific about that character in the story, and put it into your interpretation, so that your essay now has roots in the text, and it’s going to be stronger.
Another thing you can do, which isn’t going to pull information directly from the text you read, but is going to make your work stronger is to find statistics, or facts relating to your topic.
Now, if you’re writing about cellphones, you might say a lot of people use cellphones. Well, instead of using that general phrase, you could give an actual number of people who use cellphones. Or if it’s people using cellphones while driving, or while at home, or while at work, or under or over a certain age, you could look up that statistic, and put it into your paper, and it’s going to help, because it makes things more precise.
It shows you did your research, it shows you aren’t just making things up from your head, you’re actually going out and finding this information somewhere. The same way that you giving your opinion of a character, or the theme of a work is based on the quotes that you find, or details that you find in the writing.
So, whenever you’re giving an interpretive essay, you want to find textual support for that interpretation. Identifying the author’s methods, finding what aspect to focus on, and evaluating and analyzing that is all important, but to make it even stronger, you want to root your interpretation in the text.
Next Lesson: Making Commas Flow