Analyse Quotes Effectively for GCSE
The English Literature exam is a 'closed book' paper. This means you cannot have a copy of the play with you. Instead, there will be a short extract of 20-30 lines printed on the question paper for you to write about. Examiners say that people write better answers when they are not wasting exam time searching the book to find a quote, as they focus on responding to the question! Knowing a selection of brief quotes will enable you to support your ideas, really impressing the examiner.
First, being able to analyse the extract you have been given will allow you to show your understanding of the words on the page. We can call this the literal meanings of the words Shakespeare uses. You can then discuss the ideas and feelings that these words suggest, we call this the connotations. Then, we think of how an audience may feel or react, and we call this the impact of the line in a dramatic sense.
Second, you need to show your knowledge of what happens before or after the section you have been given, setting the extract within the context of the play. As you think about what the question focuses on you could include how Macbeth's character changes, or a theme such as the influence of the supernatural in the play. Then, you can dip into your memory for some of the short quotes you know really well, and use them to support your ideas in your answer. These following questions will connect your knowledge about themes and characters while giving you lots of quotes to use in your own answers!
You should always refer to your own text when working through these examples. These quotations are for reference only.