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Context.

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I'm having my mock exams in a week, and I do not have a particularly good relationship with the English A1 Lang & Lit paper 1's. I've always had gotten like 11-13 out of 20 on my past exams, which may have been attributed to my weak analytical skills of texts. Although I'd like to think I've improved loads since then, I'm still having a lot of confusion with the idea of context.

 

I perfectly understand how the historical and cultural context of the society the text was written in and how it influenced the text, however going deeper as context becomes more and more vague it just seems so complex. It appears to get intertwined with other literary aspects such as purpose and audience. 

 

Can someone please explain clearly to me what context is? How would you analyze context aside from the sociocultural/political background? 

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Well I guess you could divide context into 'Context of interpretation' and 'Context of composition' . the former includes the conditions under which the writer had written the text. The latter includes the conditions under which the reader reads and interprets the text. And you could play around with the latter by comparing the context of interpretation at that the time the text was written and context of interpretation at current time. 

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Purpose and audience are part of the context, they're supposed to be entwined. You can't really understand the context of a text if you ignore who it was written for and what its purpose was! In literature about the only discrete things are literary devices (as in simile, alliteration etc.), everything else all merges together. My advice would be to stop thinking about literary aspects and so on trying to divide things into categories, and just analyse it from a more simplistic point of view. Who, what, why, when, how. Yes mention the audience and purpose and so on, but it's all part of the same thing (context), these are not completely separate aspects.

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