Literary Appreciation


Written by bunpeiris


Literature in English Cambridge OL & AL &  Sri Lanka National  OL & AL: Essay Type Answers

Scheherazade asked if she might bid one last farewell to her beloved sister, Dunyazade (Persian: دنیازاد - Donyāzād‎‎), who had secretly been prepared to ask Scheherazade to tell a story during the long night. The king lay awake and listened with awe as Scheherazade told her first story.

Scheherazade narrates, what the king thought, as her last story to Dunyazad, her beloved sister. The king couldn’t help but lay awake and listen with awe till dawn when Scheherazade stops at a cliffhanger moment.

As the street story teller once told Scheherazade, the stories do tell us how to live. Being cheated by his queen, the King Shahryar would have each one of his daily brides beheaded on the following day. Having convinced her father, the kingdom’s vizier that she would escape being beheaded, Scheherazade marries King Shahryar. Armed with a vast knowledge in geography and history, astronomy and astrology, Scheherazade creates. She creates spellbinding stories. 1001 Arabian Nights: 1001 episodes night after night coming to a cliffhanger at the crack of dawn, making the king to let her live another day so that he could have his curiosity quenched & entertainment satisfied. At the end of the sleepless yet mesmerising 1001 nights, Scheherazade, having enlightened a murderous mind, of the human condition, i.e. merits & demerits, vices & virtues  of the human race, not only saves her life but also saves thousands of would-be one night brides of the King. The King falls back into the righteous path. Stories tell us how to live.

Stories have specific meanings: they bring us moral messages. It wouldn’t break a sweat to grasp the moral message conveyed in “Parable of the Prodigal Son” or the fairy tale of “Cinderella”. But then how do we dig out the moral message of “The Prince & the Pauper” [Sri Lanka OL English Literature] or “The Merchant of Venice” [Cambridge OL Literature in English] or ” Othello” [National AL]?  Such stories make use of settings & characters, actions & reactions, situations & predicaments, man-made laws & divine laws bringing forth different sides & angles of a conflict [inclusive of flip & cocky], thereby raising more perspectives, new questions. Such stories consist of meanings that are complicated and arguable. It is your task, as learners of literature, to untangle the complications, to reason in and dig out the moral message.
The learners will put forth many valid and interesting interpretations and the teacher may entertain each  & everyone in line with its merit and guide them to go about learning the human condition, i.e. why we do what we do and how we can hold up the concept “Do No Harm.” Interpretations of fiction are often opinions, but not all opinions are equal. Of course while there is never a single correct answer to any effort in interpretation of a work of literature, there could be wrong answers: your interpretation needs to be a fair argument to hold up. Never forget we have ChristianTen Commandments or Buddhism’s Code of Right Conduct, i.e. Pansil or Five Observances. We will not contribute towards an idea of taking another human life nor steal nor bear false witness against another. It is the teacher’s job to have all of you engaged in discussions on the work of literature or story and help each one of you to develop a reasoning mind with a view to arrive at the truth. All we want is the truth. Development of the power of reasoning in literature doesn’t come to an end by petering out simply to the rest of your subjects. It flows out all along the life of yours. After all, the fundamental goal of education is to make students as well as teachers—and therefore everyone—at least, reasonable minds & at best, beautiful minds.

All need to be reasonable at all times: nobody has right to resort to extreme means. We live in one planet: today economically and climatically it has become one small world where all depend upon one another. Furthermore, it is the mind that is trained in reasoning that will have the capacity to create. Knowledge is the lowest form of learning while creation is the highest form in learning. Scheherazade was right there, at the top: a master story teller. Where is the value of knowledge, if same couldn’t be applied for creation?

Reason out and see the creations of humanity all around. Look at your mobile phone, PC, the pair of spectacles, your pair of soft leather ankle boots or bookshelf. And the human race, forever, has been hell bent in creation beginning with the wheel then, to Artificial Intelligence [AI] now. Today, we are the beneficiaries of all those creations. The world rolls on upon committing ourselves to return the favours extended to us by our forefathers, beginning with the primitive inventors of the wheel.

Reason out why we must not ever import our staple diet. Look at the great ancient cascade irrigation network of Sri Lanka, the Water World: consisting of ancient great rainwater reservoirs like Parakrama Samudra rainwater reservoir in the, Minneriya rainwater reservoir in the ancient Sinhalese kingdom of Polonnaruwa; Kalawewa rainwater reservoir & canals such as Yoda Ela. It is the great ancient network  together with modern irrigation schemes, i.e. Mahaweli & Galoya that extend the lifeline to our agricultural nation, making our country self-sufficient in rice, our staple diet. Our great ancient irrigation scheme is the gift to us today, from our ancient kings of 2500+ years of glorious history. If not for hundreds of great man-made reservoirs in Raja rata or Wewe Bandi Rata [Kingdom of rainwater reservoirs] or North Central zone, today we would be depending upon foreign countries for our staple diet. Wouldn’t that be the most pathetic situation that we could ever sink down to?

Sinhalese of Sri Lanka

Self-Sufficiency In Rice Is Paramount:Parakrama Samudraya [Sinhala: Sea of Parakrama] ancient man-made lake at Polonnaruwa constructed for irrigation by King Parakramabahu the Great [reign: 1153-1185 AD], Sri Lanka

Not a drop of water, that falls from the sky, should be allowed to flow to the sea, without man making proper use of it."

Self-Sufficiency In Rice Is Paramount:”Not a drop of water, that falls from the sky, should be allowed to flow to the sea, without man making proper use of it.” King Parakramabahu the Great [reign:1153- 1185 AD], Sri Lanka

Reason out why we should never depend upon a foreign country for our staple diet. Several decades ago, in hard times, we had to make an agreement with, then an international outcast, today, the modern powerhouse that counterbalance the barbarian nuclear bomber of Japan, to have rice. That was Sirima Bandaranyake government’s Rice for Rubber Agreement with China. China agreed to accept our natural rubber & supply us with rice, thus saving us from starvation. China has been our old friend.

Reason out with a view to arrive at the truth. Your love towards your country shouldn’t be second to your love towards your parents. In Mongolia, even to date, dried horse-dung is used as fuel is used instead of firewood as cowdung in the remote areas of our country. As the dried horse-dung gatherer was of value to the great emperor Ghengis Khan, in his own words, perhaps I too could be of value, albeit in a negligible proportion, to my motherland. In my humble capacity, I try to matter for my country. I write & publish on-line for my motherland. That is you all. I am bunpeiris, nobody, a lost grain of sand caught in the sea-breeze that floats across Bolgoda Lake; and a lost soul who was once driven all round the bund of inland-sea like man-made lake, Parakrama Samudra Rainwater Reservoir at the age of eight. I will never forget the waters, waves & the breeze; I will not become a gypsy or traitor and forsake my motherland for few dollars more.

Reason out with a view to arrive at the value of our living heritage. Our survival depends upon our living heritage: agricultural village; rainwater reservoir; Buddhist temple & stupa. Our survival depends upon our heritage, our Water World. We must never be dependent on foreign countries for our staple diet. Reason out with a view to arrive at the truth.

In literature too, all you have to do is reason out with a view to arrive at the truth. Have no fear; you do it all the time, with your parents, elders, teachers, friends and relations. That’s how we live: you need to express your ideas with a view to arrive at the truth. Critical Essay type Answers in Literary Appreciation calls for your own ideas in your own words: reason out. Nevertheless, your ideas and arguments need to be supported with the evidence from the text.  Herein, we do not discuss of “context questions” since those are merely “comprehension question.”

Now, conventionally, literature is tested by written examinations. Then again, essay type answers are by far the most common form of evaluating upon competency in “Appreciation of Literary texts.” As such when it comes to the “Appreciation of Literary text” the twin competencies of reading and writing are intricately inter-related and mutually interdependent. One wouldn’t do without the other: the quality of your essay type answer would depend upon your competency in reading; your reading competencies wouldn’t be reflected in the essential level unless it is well supported by your competency in writing.

Since the creativity of the learner is of paramount importance, no particular approach or method is adopted in learning literature at your level. All the same, the competencies based approach introduced by Spiro in 1990 has been useful in guiding the learners towards systematic appreciation of a work of literature.

[a] Understanding plain sense [comprehension]
[b] Understanding the context
[c] Learning to empathize [express feelings]
[d] Learning to appreciate
[e] Learning to be creative

At your learning level you may quote/paraphrase, explain/analyze  strictly the primary source
At your level, you will be making use only of the primary source, i.e. strictly the literary text of the author. Other commentaries and critical essays by reviewers & critics, which fall into the category of secondary sources, must not be quoted. Secondary sources are works by one author about another author’s work.

For an example, in appreciating “The Merchant of Venice”, do not put forth an argument saying “Antonio is gay” by quoting the introduction to the drama. Herein the introduction written by a critic or the editor of a particular edition of the drama is simply a secondary source.

Let me be specific with respect of The Merchant of Venice:
Penguin edition’s General Introduction &  Introduction written by  Peter Holland;
Bantam Classic’s edition’s  Introduction ,  the review “The Merchant of Venice on Stage”  &  the review “The Merchant of Venice  On Film” written by David Bevington & David Scott Kastan;
Folger edition’s Editor’s Preface & reviews & introductions written by Barbara A. Mowat & Paul Wertstine

All such reviews, introductions & commentaries are secondary sources.  You may read those to gather background knowledge, raise your level of analysis and enhance your competency in writing. But you may not quote those editors in your essay type answers. You may quote strictly the primary source, the drama itself: “The Merchant of Venice.”  You may quote strictly the drama to produce evidence.

At your learning level, figurative language is of secondary importance
Interpretation of the work of literature is all that matters. The author’s use of Figurative language may spark the readers’ imagination resulting in visualization of the characters and situations as he fancies. Nevertheless, not for a moment, you may labour under the delusion that learning how the author has made use of figurative language completes “literary appreciation.”  Of course, it may help in your appreciation. But it will not complete. Writing what you think of the work of literature alone completes your appreciation.  

At your learning level, the background knowledge about the author isn’t of relevance.
Furthermore, none of those background information such as authors biographies do not matter. Do not be misled by those who insist such information be incorporated to your essay type answers. All that matter is your appreciation of the given work of literature: express with no fear what you think. But, yes there is a but, you must support your ideas, your opinion, your points of view with the evidence gleaned from the text. Again, all, the whole world need from you is your appreciation: the populace is ready to lend their ears to hear your argument. Mark how your subject at Sri Lanka OL [National] is titled: “Appreciation of English Literary Text” Should I say more?

Here are more from Sri Lanka & Cambridge OL Literature

Literature as a discipline is strongly affected by subjectivity and individuality. The teaching approach should not by any means limit the students’ originality, stifle their imaginative involvement or cramp their style of writing turn literary study into a production of answers on the same basic model. Students should be encouraged to read for themselves, discover and write responses, which will make them, think for themselves rather than depend on someone else for a response.
H.R. S. K. Athugoda, Director/English, NIE, Sri Lanka

Cambridge International Examinations [CIE] no longer offers Notes for Teachers of Literature in English because the Principal Examiner for Component 1 of the 0486 syllabus observed that it was leading some Centers to adopt a rote teaching style, contrary to the ‘Cambridge learner’ values which Cambridge International Examination promotes, and which prevented candidates from being able to  adequetely demonstrate A04 (“communicate a sensitive and informed personal response to literary text”) of the Assessment Objectives. Frequently, examiners were seeing the context of the Notes for Teachers repeated verbatim by candidates within their responses, and a marked disparity for some Centers between the quality of the answers for Paper 1 & those for Unseen-where the more spontaneous nature of the responses often resulted in far more meaningful and insightful engagement with the text.

Writing your essay type answer:
Follow the modern paragraph writing technique [PEEL].  Perhaps, it would be interesting for you to learn, how PEEL seemed to have been evolved from no other than Cicero’s classical model in oration formulated prior to even the birth of Jesus.  Imagine the sophistication of Greeks 2000+ years ago: they not only staged dramas of immense literary merit, but also composed litearay theories for the rest to engage in arguments in search of truth.

Cicero’s [106BC-46BC] classical model in oration Modern Essay Writing Technique Modern Paragraph Writing Technique [PEEL]
Introduction [exordium]


Introductory paragraph
Exhort: urge forward. Invite the reader into your argument. Introduces the topic
Statement of Fact [narratio] Provide background information in the statement of facts  
Thesis [partitio] Thesis Statement

Break down your argument into your thesis

P: Point

The first sentence of each paragraph is called the “topic sentence,” & it serves as a thesis for the paragraph.

Proof [confirmation] Show the readers the evidence for your claim in the proof E: Evidence
Refutation [refutation] Refute the counter argument E: Explanation
Conclusion [peroration] Synthesize your argument in the conclusion L: Link     

Now, let’s discuss the vital features

Your Examination paper on Literature: Cambridge OL
Most often, your essay type question can be in a form that you’ll easily be able to “convert” into a question.
[a] Antonio has no hesitation at all in accepting the hazardous conditions of Shylock’s bond. Discuss
[b] Now, see the conversion into a question:
Why does Antonio accept hazardous conditions of Shylock’s bond?
This is the regular situation. Why is that?

It is because your essay type answer needs to be, in essence, nothing more than your attempt to argue your point of view on what you believe the answer to this “essay question” is.
If you state your view clearly at the beginning and support what you say convincingly in your essay type answer, you will do well.

Point Evidence Explanation Link
Make your point In your own words Support your point with examples or evidence from the text. Use quotes or events from the text. Explain your point
Explain  how the quotes & events set up evidence or examples support your point
Link this point to the following point; to the next paragraph as well as the essay question.
  Quotations can never stand by themselves. They must be introduced & explained.  

Why does Antonio accept hazardous conditions of Shylock’s bond?

Point Evidence
He was weary of this world anyway and put little value on his life. [i]”In sooth I know not why I am so sad. It wearies me, you say it wearies you;
But how I caught it, found it, or came by it, What stuff’ tis made of, whereof it is born,I am to learn; And such a want-wit sadness makes of me
That I have much ado to know myself.
[ii] “I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano
A stage where every man must play a part,     And mine a sad one”
The probability of multiple disaster was almost nil (and as we later discover, did not in fact occur) He soothes Bassanio:
[i]“Why, fear not man; I will not forfeit it.”
[ii] “Come on. In this there can be no dismay; My ships come home a month before the day.”
Antonio to Salerio[iii] ”My ventures are not in one bottom trusted, Nor to one place; nor is my whole estate. Upon the fortune of this present year”
Antonio never dreamed that under any circumstances Shylock would exact payment Antonio is deceived by the words of Shylock:
[i]“ Go  with me to a notary, seal me there Your single bond, and, in a merry sport”
[ii] “would like to be friends”
[iii]”I’ll seal to such a bond, And say there is much kindness in the Jew.”
[iv] “To buy his favour I extend this friendship.”
[v] “Pray you tell me this: If he should break his day, what should I gain by the extraction of the forfeiture?”
By signing the bond, Antonio gave proof of the great love he felt for Bassanio. Antonio has promised Bassanio
[ii]“extremist means”

Above is a table of points and evidence. Now, all you have to do is write a cohesive essay type answer to the question.

Evidence should be Evidence should not be
Be concise & carefully selected Be copied in chunks
Be interwoven [intergrated] in to the explanation Be left standing alone
Vey clearly supports your point Be vaguely related to the point 

Tense: Most of the work of literature was originally narrated in the past tense. Nevertheless, Literature is ‘alive” and constant.  No matter what you pick up is fiction or poetry, now or later, the literature is still “alive” As such, it’s customary in literary analysis to use the present tense; it is at the present time that we are looking at the text.
But if events in a narrative or drama take place in a time sequence.  Naturally, you will often need to use a past tense to refer to events that took place before the moment you are presently discussing:
–When he hears Cordelia’s answer, Lear seems surprised, but not dumbfounded. He advises her to “mend [her] speech a little.” He had expected her to praise him the most; but compared to her sisters’ her remarks seem almost insulting (1.1.95).

It is herein that you need to integrate quotes from the text of the work of literature given or concerned. Remember at your level, appreciation is the matter.

Maintain cohesion throughout your answer: link your ideas

Linking Make use of a suitable word
To show cause if, then, because, so, therefore, thus, as a result of
To show sequence firstly, finally, meanwhile, after, then, [first, second, third],
To indicate addition and, too, moreover also, as well as, furthermore, on the other hand
To express inference therefore, consequently, accordingly
To indicate viewpoints in spite of, with regard to, in view of
To qualify a statement however, although, unless, except, if, as long as, apart from, yet
To emphasis above all, in particular, especially, indeed, notably
To illustrate for example, such as, for instance, as revealed by, in the case of
To compare Equally, in the same way, similarly, likewise, as with. like
To contrast Whereas, instead of, alternatively, otherwise, unlike, on the other hand

Explain evidence

To avoid using ‘I’, ‘me’ or ‘my’ This means/suggests/indicates that….   It is evident that …..
This evidence supports the idea that..  This leads to the conclusion that…
Active Verbs that can replace ‘states’ Using active verbs in the signal phrase lets you show how an author approaches a topic.
Is your source arguing a point, making an observation, reporting facts, drawing a conclusion, refuting an argument, or stating a belief?
Acknowledges, adds, comments, compares, describes, disputes, maintains, notes, reports, responds, describes, thinks, infers, declares, concludes, conveys, testifies, questions, summarizes, asserts, proclaims, illustrates, believes, observes, protests, doubts, exemplifies, stresses
To state a point of view This means that…     this would be a good choice because…. In particular…. Above all…  Besides… it is significant that…..
Analyzing a problem A is like B in that……; Of most significance is …. ; Of least significance is… ; Some aspects of the problem are more or less significant than others….; There are several aspects of the problem to be examined…… ; There are clear similarires between,,,, and ….   ; Differences are evident between….
Making recommendations After looking at both sides/all the evidence…; It is therefore advisable ‘logical to propose…..; Evidence overwhelmingly supports the suggestion/notion that….
Reaching conclusions As a result….; Thus…/ Therefore…../Finally…..  The evidence supports the view/opinion that… ; The following conclusions can be drawn….   Consequently, it would seem….. A consideration of all the options/choices affirms that…..

Methods in presenting textual material as evidence in your appreciation of the work of literature
[A] Quote

[B] Paraphrase :translate the original into your own word
[C] Summarize

[A] Quoting literary text as evidence in your essay type answers
[a] Quote only the portions of the text specifically relevant to your point.

[b] Think of the text in terms of units –words, phrases, sentences, and groups of sentences (paragraphs, stanzas)- & use only the
units you need.
[c] If it is particular words or phrases that “prove your point, you do not need to quote the sentences they appear in; rather,
integrate the word & phrases into sentences expressing your own ideas.
[d] Do not use two quotations in a row, without intervening material of your own.
[e] Work all quotes smoothly into grammatical sentences that explain how and why the quote supports your thesis.
[f] Do not begin a paragraph with quotes
[g] Say “the reader” or “the audience” instead of “you.”
[h] Never

1 Never list quotes/proof/words in succession “sea”  “calm,” “tranquil”
2 Never make patronizing statement like: The poet effectively uses imagery……..
The poet uses numerous techniques………………………
The poet uses good technique…..

[i] Say/Do not say

  Do not say Say
1 “this shows”  or “This shows his happiness” Poet’s tranquility reveals is happiness
2 The words “sea”, “calm” “tranquil” show the poet’s state of mind Describing the “sea” as “calm” and “tranquil”, the poet reveals his state of peacefulness
3 “blood” , “dagger”,  “madness” shows Macbeth is going crazy. Hallucinating, the “blood” Macbeth sees on his “dagger” reveals his descent into “madness”.
  It reveals his emotions [Be specific with your vocabulary] It reveals his emotions of sadness and anger

Patterns for integrating quotations into sentences
[1] Write your own complete sentence  [make your assertion]
[2] Follow up with a colon
[3] Introduce the quote

Fitzgerald gives Nick a muted echo the hero: “Gatsby turned out all right at the end” [176]   [The Great Gatsby: F. Scott Fitzgerald]
Vivian hates the knights for scorning her, and she dreams of achieving glory by destroying Merlin’s : “I have made his glory mine” [390]

Cassio represents not only a political but also a personal threat to Iago: “he hath a daily beauty in his life/That makes my ugly……………”[5.1.19-20]
[Othello: William Shakespeare]

I told myself:” I am all right, I am quite sound if I can do this every day. I shall be able to write a hundred lines of poetry, read everything I want to read, in addition to class-work…”   [The English Teacher: R. K. Narayan]

But I caught myself lecturing:”This is the very heart of the tragedy & I would like you to follow this portion with greatest attention…”
[The English Teacher: R. K. Narayan]

Writing an incomplete sentence followed by a comma & then the quote
Gertrude implores her son Hamlet, “cast your knighted colour off” ( 1.2.68)
[Hamlet: William Shakespeare]

I felt irritated and said, “Mr. Gajapathy, there are blacker sins in this world than a dropped vowel.”
[The English Teacher: R. K. Narayan] 

Now, let’s discuss the vital features

[c] Writing a statement that ends in that or a signal phrase & then the quote
If you need to alter or replace text from the original, enclose the added text within square brackets.
You may, for example, need to alter text to ensure that pronouns agree with their antecedents
Gertrude asks her son Hamlet to “cast your knighted colour off”  (1.2.68).
Square brackets allow you to absorb Gertrude’s words into your own statement:
Gertrude asks her son hamlet to “cast [his] knighted colour off” (1.2.68)
[Hamlet: William Shakespeare]

[B]Paraphrasing literary text as evidence in your essay type answers
Paraphrase: restatement of the meaning of a text or passage using other words, an additional manner of expression

Original: Her life spanned years of incredible change for women.

Paraphrase: Mary lived through an era of liberating reform for women.

What Paraphrasing is an effective tool for summarizing ideas.

When you paraphrase, you render ideas from the primary source in your own words roughly the same level of detail as in the original.

How Reformulate the ideas of the character, i.e. use your own words

The key to successful paraphrasing is to use as few words as possible from the original text–be mindful not to change the meaning that you are trying to convey as you rephrase.
If you have two words in a row exactly like the author: put the quotation marks around them

When [a] when you do not remember the precise words of the character
[b] when the source’s language is not especially distinctive.[c] If nothing would be lost by paraphrasing
Why A paraphrase typically explains or clarifies the text that is being paraphrased.
For example, “The signal was red” might be paraphrased
“The train was not allowed to pass because the signal was red”.

[C] Summarize when it is not so much the language of the text that justifies your position, but the substance or content.
Summarize: summarizing has no value in appreciation. Summarizing is simply restating the main points and events in a condensed way: it only tells what happens in the story. Although you will have to discuss the actions/situations of the story, you will not merely restate what happens.

Go to following links to learn of Essay Writing

Cambridge OL English Essays Part 1  

Cambridge OL English Essays  2       _____________________________________________________________________

Analyse: break into parts & examine the components
Interpret: offer possible meanings
Write critically: think about what a piece of literature means and find a way to express what it says to you. You must “consider” the work, form opinions about what you have read, & think about how the ideas in the work connect to the world in a larger way.

Tuition Literature Cambridge OL

Tuition Literature Cambridge OL

Tuition English Language Cambridge

Tuition English Language Cambridge


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