GCSE English Language Key Terms

29th March 2017

New GCSE English Syllabus
English Language - Key terms for analysis of prose - everything you need to know!
This is a guide to help you understand the key terms for analysing prose. We’ll be going through a variety of key terms that you’ll need to understand and
use in your GCSE English Language exam.
These key terms will help you  to analyse prose texts well and will help you understand more of the content of prose texts. Let’s work through the definitions:
Allusion - when there is an indirect or implied reference to something such as a song or a place.
Ambiguity - when there can be several different interpretations of the same thing in a text. Something that is open to various different readings.
Antagonist - this is the opposing force to the protagonist. A character who opposes the main character.
Bildungsroman - when a novel portrays a character’s journey from childhood through to adulthood.
Biography - this is a piece of nonfiction writing. The writing will recall a real person’s life. It’s worth knowing that if the author is the person that the book is about, then this is called an autobiography.
Character - a pretty easy one! Characters are the people that are in the text and are who the text is written about.
Characterization - this is who the characters are, what they do and why. It’s their personality and their characteristics.
Mood - this is the overall spirit of the text. It is the general feeling that the narrative is gives the reader.
Narrative - this is any text and story that is told through a narrator.
Narration - the telling of the story.
Narrator - the person who tells the story. There are fives different types of narrator that you
should be familiar with:
1. A first-person narrator is a narrator who speaks of him or herself in first-person (using
the words I or we). This can often be confused with the author - make sure you do
not assume the author is the narrator and that the narrator reflects the author’s views
2. A second-person narrator is a narrator that speaks of him or herself in second-person
(using the word you a lot) but this is quite uncommon
3. A third-person narrator is a narrator who speaks of him or herself in third-person
(using the words they, he, she or it etc.) and are usually set apart from the story.
They are simply there to narrate rather than be involved in the events in the text
4. An omniscient narrator is an all-knowing narrator. A narrator that can portray to the
reader the thoughts and emotions of the characters
5. Finally there is an unreliable narrator. This can be very important in other subjects, as
well as English, for judging the reliability of written sources. An unreliable narrator
has an untrustworthy view of the story and means that the reader must read with this unreliability
in mind.
Plot - this is what happens in the text. There are usually five main sections to a plot (but this can also not be the case) and these are exposition, rising action, turning point/climax, falling action, and finally the resolution or conclusion.
Protagonist - this is the main character in the text (as referred too earlier in the protagonist definition).
To help you remember all of these definitions we’ve written a song. The song has all the main content you’ll need to learn and should stay in your head once you’ve had a listen a few times! It’s important that you keep revising these key terms as they will be in your new GCSE English Language syllabus and are sure to be tested in your upcoming examinations!


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