How to write a literature essay: Things Fall Apart
In the final Grade 12 literature examination you will need to answer an essay question. Good planning is the key to success in a literature essay but in an exam, you will seldom have the time to do this so you need to be well prepared.
It is important that you have read the novel more than once and have thought about it deeply, so that you will have all the information you need to construct a sound, well-supported response.
Using Things Fall Apart as an example, here are some guidelines to help you write your literature essay.
Let us look at a possible question:
Okonkwo’s tragedy is that he is unable to adapt to changing circumstances. How valid do you believe this statement to be in the context of the novel as a whole? In an essay of 350‑400 words, analyse the reasons that lead to Okonkwo’s tragic death.
First, study the topic carefully and underline the most important aspects as shown. Once you know what you must focus on in your answer, you can plan your essay. Spend a few minutes planning your essay, so that you know how your argument will develop before you begin to write the essay.
Structure of an essay: an introduction, a body and a conclusion.
||While is it certainly true that Okonkwo finds it difficult to adapt to changing circumstances, it is simplistic to think that this is the only cause of his tragic death. These multiple reasons lie deep within his character, as well as in the circumstances of the changing world in which he lives.|
|Development||Body of essay|
||When writing the body of your essay, you should cover the following points.
Influences on Okonkwo’s character development:
Changes in Okonkwo’s environment:
Okonkwo’s clash with colonial authority
||It is thus clear that Okonkwo’s tragic death is brought about by many different factors, which cause him to become increasingly despondent. Ultimately, his suicide is a choice. In removing himself from a world in which he no longer has a place, he is retaining the initiative and cheating the colonial authorities of their victory. However, the cost of this is great, as he has broken an important taboo and will thus be denied the traditional rituals that he has fought so hard to preserve.|
Remember these 5 points:
- Never misspell the names of the characters.
- Remember to use quotation marks when you quote from the novel.
- Never misquote. Paraphrase in your own words if you cannot remember accurately.
- Underline the question word as you go so that you know what to focus on in your answer.
- After you have answered the question, reread your answers to check for careless spelling errors, and to see that you have written enough to justify the mark allocated.
Find more help in this great X-kit Achieve Literature Study Guide: X-kit Achieve Literature Series: Things Fall Apart
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