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English Literature

Language

We have already looked at one aspect of language - in the section on character we saw how you could use short quotations as evidence.

Using quotations

We might want to say Don John is an aggressive and angry character. We can then support this view by looking at his language. He says that if he had a mouth he "would bite", and that he only has his unhappiness to make use of.

Here we are using two ways to provide evidence: words that are directly from the play are put in quotation marks, for example, "I am a plain-dealing villain." The second way is to describe what is said in your own words, for instance, Don John plans to stop Claudio's marriage to Hero. It is often good to combine these methods, perhaps quoting just one word from the play. For instance, Don John despises Claudio and calls him a "start-up" (an 'upstart' in modern English).

The one thing you should avoid is using a long quotation. Many students write out whole chunks of the play. This is just like retelling the story - there is no reason for it, and you will not get any marks for it.

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