When it comes to learning your evidence in preparation for exams and SACs, you should prioritise quotes that are versatile and rich in their ideas, allowing you to go into great depth when discussing their implications in your essays. We know that the quality of our discussion matters more than the number of quotes we memorise, but how does one analyse a quote? The Women of Troy is a relatively short text, but the language used is lyrical, with meaning embedded in each line of the play. It is important for students learning this text to make the most out of each quote and develop the ability to analyse the significance of each evidence cited. This blog will provide you with a simple, 3-step formula for an A+ level piece of analysis. We also include an example of how this process can help you write a structured and coherent body paragraph that ticks all the boxes!
EVIDENCE ANALYSIS | 3-FOLD FORMULA
Follow these simple steps to organise your ideas and unpack the meanings behind the quote you have selected for your essays. The focus should be on what the author is doing, rather than what the characters are doing.
Step 1: Evidence – Outline your evidence/ literary devices/ quotes
Start by describing what the author has done, embed your quotes and mention the literary devices or cinematic technique employed. Do contextualise your quotes and situate them within your text, but avoid writing lengthy description of what happened in the play.
- Euripides employs the simile ‘…’
- By likening(comparing) A to B, Euripides _. This simile …….
- Through the symbolic/ metaphoric ‘’ / Through the contrast between A and B, Euripides __
- The metaphoric ‘crown’ in this scene __
- The simile ‘…’ herein _
- An exemplification of this is the portrayal of as ‘___’
- This is epitomised/ exemplified/ illustrated through the analysis
Step 2: Analysis
Ask yourself, what is the significance of the quote? Why has the author chosen those specific words? What are the functions of the narrative device used? What does it say about the characters and their courses of actions. In this step, you should try walking the examiners through your thought process and carefully explain how you come to a conclusion.
- Herein/ Here, … (significance of the device in your evidence – what is it doing?)
- Associate an idea to another
- Compare an idea to another
- Characterise A as __
- Portray A as __
Step 4: Effect
This step is crucial in the development of a coherent piece of writing. This is your chance to demonstrate to the assessors or markers that you understand the task, or the prompt, and link your analysis with what the essay question requires you to discuss. How does it reinforce the author’s message? What does it say about the broader social context? How does it make the readers feel?
- Enhance what notion/ idea?
- Emphasise an idea?
- How might it make Euripides’ contemporaries feel?
- How does it help Euripides convey a message?
Example | The Women of Troy
Let’s look at an example of what this process would look like!
Tip: I highly recommend setting your notes out like this as you go through your text. It would help you gain a profound and systematic understanding of the text. Trust me, it would make your life so much easier.
|1||“howl of agony” – animal imagery||Compares Hecuba’s expression of pain with that of an animal||Amplifies/ Magnifies her pain/ renders it a pain beyond human’s|
|2||“dragged as a slave” – simile||Likening Hecuba’s current distorted state to that of a slave||Underlines/ critiques the consequences of warfare on innocent|
bystanders – a haunting image of Hecuba – who is a paradigm of women
suffering/ women are forced to pay the price of the war their male
|3||“by birth, troy’s king and queen’ – contrast||Refer to above ‘this is in stark contrast with her former title as the Queen’||The drastic change in her life/ transformation of identity – Enhances her loss and deepens her pain|
|4||“like a mother at her plundered nest” – simile||Shattered sorrow of a destroyed maternal bond; archetypal|
portrayal of H as the mother of Troy, which is represented as her ‘plundered
|Explicates the depth of H’s pain – invite his contemporaries to|
sympathise with her
SAMPLE BODY PARAGRAPH
Once you have mastered analysing your quotes, writing will no longer be that difficult! The following body paragraph is basically the fancy elaborated version of the table above.
Indeed, the protagonist Hecuba embodies the true horror of warfare as she is forced through unbearable pain and agony as a victim of war. (1)Through the zoomorphic ‘howl of agony’, Euripides compares/likens Hecuba’s expression of pain with that of an animal. Herein, the animal imagery enables the dramatist to project and amplify the pain of the protagonist, rendering it a sorrow beyond human endurance. (2) The portrayal of Hecuba as a wretched victim of war is further enhanced through the simile ‘dragged as a slave’. In likening her altered appearance to that of a slave, Euripides creates/ fabricates a haunting image of Hecuba, who embodies the collective pain of the aggrieved women of Troy. This enables the playwright to establish his criticism of the consequences of warfare and its adverse impacts on innocent bystanders, condemning the Hellenic society that forces women to pay the price of their male counterparts’ crimes. (3) This is starkly contrasted with her former title ‘by birth, troy’s king and queen’, which connotes regality and nobility. In doing so, the drastic change in her life and the transformation of her identity are underlined, inviting the pathos of the Hellenic audience. (4) In referring to Hecuba as ‘a mother bird at her plundered nest’, Euripides draws the audience’s attention to an archetypal portrayal of the protagonist as the mother of Troy – her ‘plundered nest’. Through this, Euripides depicts the shattered sorrow of a destroyed maternal bond, explicating the depth of her pain. To this end, Hecuba is established as an anti-war statement and also a representative of the pain that Hellenic women are forced endure in a patriarchal society.