How To Analyse Prose Texts

Updated: Apr 5, 2019

Exam season is soon approaching (good luck everyone!), so I thought I’d do something a little different this week and give you some tips on how to analyse prose texts. If you’re studying the AQA syllabus ‘Love Through the Ages’ or similar, you may be given an unseen text which you have to analyse yourself and link it to another unseen text, so below are some ideas on what to look out for.

When you write your introduction to your essay, consider which themes link between the two extracts and consider the similarities and differences between the texts. For example, if you’re studying Love Through the Ages:

‘Both Coetzee’s ‘Disgrace’ and Hardy’s ‘Jude the Obscure’ look at the theme of seduction. There is a strong sense of sexual tension in these extracts between the characters, however they differ in that in ‘Disgrace’ it is the man that takes the lead in trying to seduce the young woman, and yet in ‘Jude the Obscure’ the country woman appears to be the one controlling the situation as she preys on the man’.

Then, you would analyse form, structure and language within the unseen texts and consider how they link back to your original theme. For example, (using different texts to above) – ‘Austen’s text shows Marianne’s desperation of speaking to Willoughby which is seen through the use of language ‘Tell him I must see him again – must speak to him instantly’ which shows her despair and desperation to contact him. What’s more, this is reinforced through the fragmented structure of her speech which reinforces the sense of desperation at Willoughby’s rejection.’ Again, if you’re studying Love Through the Ages, then you would compare this to the other text (linking to the theme of rejection), and also link in your wider reading links as well as societal and historical context, before moving onto another theme. I’ll make another post about essay structure as a separate blog post another time if I get enough requests, let me know if you’re interested!

For today, I’m going to explain what you’re looking out for in terms of form, language and structure within prose texts and how you can form your analysis from them:


  • Narrative - Is it first, second or third person?

  • Fictional or non-fictional? – Consider this when linking back to societal/historical context

  • Autobiography, biography or neither?

  • What type of novel is it, e.g. epistolary? – What does this say about the text?

  • Consider the audience – How would it be received to audiences today? How would it have been received to audiences of the time


  • Consider the authorial voice (the individual writing style of the author) – Is it reliable?

  • Do they use colloquial language?

  • Do they use metaphorical language, e.g. similes and metaphors?

  • Personification

  • Pathetic fallacy

  • Use of dialogue? – Direct, indirect, free indirect speech, blank verse

  • Where is it set? – For example, graveyards link to the Gothic theme

  • Sentence type? – Do they use short or long sentences? What does this suggest

  • Repetition

  • Symbolism

  • Tone – Is it ironic, comedic, satire?

  • Tense – Past, present or future?

  • Consider actions within text, e.g. singing, dancing, music – What effect does this have?

  • Consider characterisation – Use of names? What do the character’s personalities and attitudes suggest?


  • Does it have a dramatic opening?

  • Does it have a dramatic ending?

  • Use of time? – Is it chronological? Are events cyclical, linear or fragmented?

  • Any foreshadowing?

  • Does it have a pivotal movement? – A crucial or significant event which changes the novel

  • Contrast?

  • Juxtaposition?

  • Symbols and motifs?

These are just some ideas that I use to analyse to prose texts. Feel free to comment below if you’d like to add some of your own. I hope this helped you!

Sophie x

Note: This picture belongs to Wix.

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