Beyond PEA

If you want to expand on your analysis of a text and add your own personal opinions, you can use IDEAS.

IDEAS stands for:

  • identify
  • describe
  • explore
  • analyse
  • assess


Consider the extract below, about Jim Wellings, using the IDEAS technique to analyse the character.

Jim Wellings was not a man to be glanced at. But nor was he a man to be stared at. To say he was a big man is like calling Buckingham Palace a big house. He was a man who filled whatever space there was. He wasn't fat, though; just big.

Identify - This extract tells you a lot about Jim Wellings. The fact that Jim 'was not a man to be glanced at' suggests he was the kind of man who gets noticed.

Describe - This also suggests that people will stare at him when they see him, causing the reader to think that there is something quite different about him.

Explore - However, the writer goes on to say, 'nor was he a man to be stared at'. This suggests that you won’t be able to avoid looking at him. When you do, you might feel too intimidated to stare directly at him, in case he looks back at you. It could be that you won't be able to avoid staring at him, but it could suggest that he is dangerous.

Analyse - The writer tells you that describing Jim as big is similar to saying 'Buckingham Palace a big house'. The writer is suggesting that the word 'big' is perhaps not enough in the case of Jim Wellings. Buckingham Palace is the grandest of houses; it is spectacular, striking and regal. By comparing Jim in this way, there is a suggestion that maybe Jim is also all of these things.

Assess - Overall, the writer is trying to emphasise to the reader Jim’s extreme size, and that it is something that anyone would notice and even wish to stare at. However, we are given the impression that staring would not be appropriate. Perhaps the writer wishes to portray a sense of threat.