This GCSE English Literature quiz will challenge you on context in Charlotte Keatley's My Mother Said I Never Should. When used specifically in reference to a work of literature, “context” means the environment in which a text was written. The social and political environment in which an author wrote, in addition to where and when he or she wrote, are each aspects of context. Do these sources of influence sound familiar to you? If so (and they should!), it’s because you will be used to discussing these same elements within the text as “setting”. Whereas setting refers to the fictional aspects of the world contained in the text, context refers to the same aspects of the author’s own world. Sometimes the author’s historical context can be very similar to the fictional setting of the text, as is the case with My Mother Said I Never Should.
Remember that the meaning of a text is never dictated by its context; it is important to remember that authors are only influenced by their environment and that this influence appears in various ways in the texts which they write. Personal beliefs can also affect the text, although it is important not to make assumptions about the precise way in which beliefs influence the text.
Challenge yourself to learn as much as you can about the context of any fictional work you study. This will help you to understand how the text was shaped by its environment. Avoid leaping to conclusions by assuming that particular events or political views act by dictating the meaning of a text, however. The influence of context on meaning can be a subtle one and it is always wise not to assume that a particular historical event is represented in an unbiased and clear way in the pages of a fictional text. Nevertheless, any effort you make to gain some knowledge of context will not be wasted.
Research the context of Charlotte Keatley’s My Mother Said I Never Should, remembering everything you have learned in your English lessons, and try these questions to see how much you know about the context of the play.
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