Writing an essay on the novel

Due to the length of a novel it is possible to see characters and themes develop and emerge from the text over the course of several hundred pages. Any number of settings, characters, complications, issues, subplots and twists may be added to highlight central ideas in the novel. A novel is crafted so that every element works together to present and support the writer’s ideas in an interesting and appropriate way. It is important that your study and critical response of the novel is very thorough and detailed.

Answers to questions on the novel should address relevantly the central concerns/ theme(s) of the text and be supported by reference to appropriate techniques of prose fiction such as: characterisation, setting, key incident(s), narrative technique, symbolism, structure, climax, plot, atmosphere, dialogue, imagery…

Sample Essay Questions:

1. Analyse how the presentation of conflict helped develop your understanding of an important issue.
Note: “Conflict” could include internal conflict as well as conflict between characters, groups or ideas.
2. Analyse how actions OR dialogue helped you to understand ONE main character / individual.
3. Analyse how the author’s presentation of ONE important section / part changed your opinion about a character / individual OR issue.
4. Analyse how contrast helped the author communicate an important message or idea. Note: “Contrast” could include contrast between characters or settings; or contrast between different sections / parts in terms of style, mood, tone, pace, etc.


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