This GCSE English Literature quiz takes a look at context found in Denis Kelly's DNA. A literary work’s context applies to the environment in which the text was written. “Context” includes an author’s geographical time and location, along with any social and political events which occurred during the author’s lifetime. If you think some of these identifying features sound familiar from elsewhere, it is because they are also elements of a text’s “setting”. You already know that setting refers to the fictional aspects of the world contained in the text. “Context” describes the same aspects of the author’s own world. In order to understand context, then, you should know the time the text was written, published, or performed and be aware of the history of similar texts. With recent texts, you might also be able to find newspaper reviews and even interviews with the author to help you develop an understanding of context.
It’s always worth the time spent learning about the context of a work of fiction. Try to develop an understanding of the environment in which the text was produced, or of the history of the genre in which the text was written. Consider the ways in which the author responds to context and how this is evident in the text. Never assume that context dictates the meaning of a text, however. This will be easier to accomplish with a text such as DNA, which aims to be timeless in many of its concerns.
Try these questions on the context of Dennis Kelly’s DNA to see how much you know about the play.