This GCSE English Literature quiz takes a look at language in DNA by Dennis Kelly. Because all of the characters in DNA are school-aged, language is natural and appropriate to how young people actually speak. This means that the effects created by language are sometimes subtle and allusive. Many of its effects depend on interaction, for instance, the way characters interrupt one another, complete each other’s sentences, speak when no one is listening, or demonstrate that they themselves are disengaged from the conversation the rest of the group is holding. It is also useful to look at punctuation in the play, which shows where sentences trail off, are interrupted, or where two characters are weaving their own contributions together.
Since texts are composed of words, they are – rather obviously - primarily understood through their language. Authors choose the individual words, phrases and imagery they use with precision. By devoting your attention to the language of a text, you can understand its symbolic meanings and associations. The use of the term “wordsmith” to describe an author emphasises the skill and craft involved in creating worlds out of language. Prose texts, including plays, as well as novels, use language you might be more likely to associate with poetry, including metaphor, simile and personification, and other literary effects. Setting, characterisation and dialogue rely upon the author’s skill with language.
You will greatly increase your understanding of the text by paying very close attention to its language. Spend some time in lingering over the words and imagery, asking yourself how many possible meanings might be perceived beyond the surface meaning. Consider the suggestions expressed implicitly by each individual choice of words, or combinations of words. While you’re reading, or re-reading, be sure to note any ideas that come to mind. Time spent in this way will greatly develop your ability to analyse literature.
Answer the questions below to develop your understanding of the way language choices affect the reader’s interpretation of DNA.