This GCSE English Literature quiz takes a look at Dennis Kelly's DNA. In order to be able to write about a text, you’ll first need to make sure you understand it. “Comprehension” is often discussed as if it is the easiest of literary tasks to master, but it is trickier than it seems. If texts only had a single simple meaning, authors would not write entire books to convey the message.
DNA is a short play with relatively few characters, written in four brief acts. The content of the play is brutally straightforward.
One group of teenagers is responsible for the death of a peer and decides to deflect any suspicion away from themselves by inventing a suspect. While the events are simple to describe, the play deals with relationships between individuals and groups, as well as the existence of groups within wider society. It is in this area that the play becomes much more complex.
Authors use a variety of methods to convey meaning. Authors might well state their meaning directly, but it is more typical for an author to communicate through other aspects of fiction, such as character, setting, plot, theme and dialogue. Focussing on each of these elements will help to increase your understanding of the text. If you have time, try to re-read the text, too. When you read a book only once, you are very likely to miss important details. If you find that you need to read certain sections several times in order to understand them, don’t worry! Noticing that you haven’t fully understood a section means that you are paying close attention to the complex nature of the text.
Making a timeline of events is a practical approach to revision. Draw up a list of acts and scenes, noting the key events which happen in each. Think about how each of these relates to plot development overall.
Consider the relationship between characters’ actions and motivations. Can you find reasons for the ways in which individual characters behave? What clues exist in the text? Are there trustworthy characters, whose words can be taken at face value? As you think about the text, consider how you might justify your views through evidence.
Remember to pay especially close attention to the beginnings and ends of the text. Why might the author have begun the text a certain way? What does the setting for each scene tell the reader? What do we know, or learn, about each character – and how? By devoting some attention to careful and detailed analysis of this sort, you can greatly improve your understanding of the text.
Read the questions below on DNA and test your knowledge and understanding of the text.