The Five Principles of Analysis in Literature: Introduction to FEAR+C

The Five Principles of Analysis in Literature: Introduction to FEAR+C

This article has been written by Danielle Holden, a VCE Drama & VCE English Literature Tutor at Learnmate. If you’re interested in private tutoring from Danielle then please check out her page here.


Close analysis is at the heart of everything we do in English Literature, from class discussions to short exercises to major essays. However, surprisingly, it is the very thing that most students struggle with. If you have ever had a teacher write a comment on your essay that it is “too general,” “not specific enough” or “reads like an English essay,” then this guide is for you! Even the very best of students can always brush up on their close analysis skills and find ways to improve. After all, close analysis skills are often what separates the top students in the state from your average student. So, without further ado, let’s get into it!

There are five key areas or ‘lenses’ in a close analysis which must all work together to produce an interpretation. Luckily, they can be easily remembered using the simple acronym FEAR+C. The next time you are approaching a SAC or an exam, you might be feeling a little stressed, perhaps even a little fearful…which can help remind you to use FEAR+C to guide your annotations within a set of passages. This memory trick may be a little corny, but it definitely helps ensure you will never forget it!

So, what is FEAR+C?

Features of the Text

If we imagine that the text we are studying is represented by a building, then the features of the text would be represented by a single brick. In other words, it is all the incredibly specific word choices and phrases, which alone may seem insignificant, but without them, there would be no building or text to analyse in the first place. Thus, when we are talking about the features of the text, we are talking about the craft of writing such as language use, style, literary devices, structure and form.

Elements of the Text

To continue with our building metaphor, the elements of the text would be best represented by the steel beams which ultimately hold the building, or text, together as a cohesive unit of meaning. In other words, it is the broader trends within the text such as characterisation, plot, setting, themes, conflict, tension and climax. All of these concepts should be very familiar and presuming you are familiar with the text, it is almost impossible to avoid discussing them.

Author’s Views and Values

If our text is a building, then the author’s views and values are best represented by the figure of an architect. It is important to consider what their vision for the text was, and how it responds to their time, or in our building metaphor, the influence of the surrounding street. Thus, several avenues of interpretation are opened up, as you can consider the views and values of the author, the text, the time in which it was written, and those upheld within the text by various characters.

Reader/Audience Response

Much the same as you would not build a building unless it was going to be enjoyed by guests, there is very little reason to write a text unless it will be enjoyed by readers. However, it is your job to analyse how the text positions the reader/audience to experience the text, while also considering how this might differ for readers from different periods in time, cultures and identity groups.

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Context

And finally, we come to context, which ultimately shapes all of the lenses mentioned above! After all, whether your text is a Renaissance comedy or a post-war American realist drama, the artistic, political and historical context in which it was written will undoubtedly bleed into almost all aspects of its construction.

For greater detail on each of these lenses and how to use them within the context of a close passage analysis essay, stay tuned for future articles in the Five Principles of Analysis in Literature series!


LearnMate is Australia’s leading tutoring agency offering private lessons in all primary & high school subjects including English, maths, science, humanities, foreign languages, and so much more. Our mission is simple: to provide professional, engaging and enthusiastic tutors to students, while also ensuring the student feels empowered and confident during their assessments! Ultimately, our goal is to empower students all over Australia to achieve amazing results and make their dreams come true!

LearnMate provides you with tailored, one-on-one lessons for tutoring in a variety of suburbs in MelbourneSydneyGeelongBrisbaneHobartCanberraPerth & Adelaide! With hundreds of tutors on the LearnMate platform, you’re bound to find someone local for any primary or high school year level! You can choose to have lessons in-person or online – whatever is easiest for you!

The Five Principles of Analysis in Literature: Introduction to FEAR+C
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VCE English Literature Study Plan – Read Now!

VCE English Literature Study Plan – Read Now!

This article was written by Lawrence Bourke, a current VCE English Literature tutor. Lawrence currently is accepting students, so if you’re interested in his services, please go here


VCE Literature is largely preoccupied with the critical analysis of literary texts in a variety of forms and contexts. It is considerably more challenging than VCE English as it required a much deeper understanding of literary conventions. In order to succeed in VCE Literature, it is imperative to appreciate these challenges. Here are a few CRUCIAL study suggestions that will ensure success within this highly challenging but rewarding subject.

1. Have an Intimate Understanding of Genre and Form: It is a VCAA requirement that any VCE Literature course examines texts within different genres and forms. In order to engage critically with the chosen texts, you must understand the various literally conventions that have informed their construction. Ensure you understand the differences between different genres and forms and how these are used and manipulated by authors’ in order to convey meaning. This is particularly important in Unit 3 AOS 1.

2. Read a Wide (and Broad) Range of Literally Texts: It can be assumed that you have chosen to study VCE Literature because you enjoy reading and understanding literary texts at a more sophisticated level. This can be enhanced by reading a wide range of texts throughout the year, these texts should include a range of different genres, forms, contexts and themes. A good place to start (to ensure academic merit at the VCE level) is the current and past VCAA Literature Prescribed Text Lists.

3. Practice Responding Critically to Set Texts: We all can express an opinion regarding a given text, however, being able to respond critically to these texts is a skill that needs to be practised before it can be perfected. Engaging critically to literary texts not only requires a deep knowledge and appreciation of the various themes, conventions and contexts but it also requires the ability to analyze these convincingly and concisely utilizing evidence from the given text. It is important to practice writing concisely and getting straight to the point – erroneous waffling or attempting to use complicated (“smart sounding”) words will NOT give you extra marks in an exam. In my experience as a tutor, two things can happen when you try and use overly complicated language in an exam: you will either start using the words inappropriately or inaccurately or your original message will become lost or harder to decipher – keep it simple.

4. Master Literary Criticisms/Perspectives: This is a key component of the VCE Literature course and is one of the distinguishing features which separates this study from VCE English. It is imperative that you understand the various forms of literary criticisms and how utilizing each one can ultimately lead to a different interpretation of a given text. For example, how would someone reading Jane Austin’s Persuasion interpret this text from a feminist perspective? How would this differ if they were to interpret this text from a postmodern perspective? Attempt to understand the key concepts underpinning each perspective and practice interpreting texts from a variety of these perspectives – how many ways can you convincingly interpret the same text?

5. Understand the Meaning of Close Analysis: The VCE Literature Study Design requires students to ‘focus on detailed scrutiny of the language, style, concerns and construction of texts’. This will be what examiners look for when marking exams. Ensure that you do not simply retell the events of a text (this is not an analysis) and you scrutinize the given passages in detail. Although the exam will provide you with a number of passages to consider for the same text – these passages will be connected in some way, you need to understand what these connections are and how they can be used to argue a single main argument – for example, do the passages represent the growth of a given character? If so how do the given conventions (language, style, concerns, construction) demonstrate this?

6. Know the Study Design Inside and Out: The VCE Literature Study Design should be your best friend. You should know this as intimately as your teacher or tutor does. It is literally your ‘cheat sheet’ for SACS and the exam. Key knowledge tells you what you need to know and key skills tell you how this knowledge will be assessed. Use this information to your advantage.

I hope these tips helped – I have resisted giving you too much information (i.e. Telling you what the various genres, modes and literary perspectives are) as the main aim of this document is simply to give you ideas on how to utilize the knowledge you have already developed. Best of wishes and good luck for the remainder of the academic school year.


LearnMate is Australia’s leading tutoring agency offering private lessons in all primary & high school subjects including English, maths, science, humanities, foreign languages, and so much more. Our mission is simple: to provide professional, engaging and enthusiastic tutors to students, while also ensuring the student feels empowered and confident during their assessments! Ultimately, our goal is to empower students all over Australia to achieve amazing results and make their dreams come true!

LearnMate provides you with tailored, one-on-one lessons for tutoring in a variety of suburbs in MelbourneSydneyGeelongBrisbaneHobartCanberraPerth & Adelaide! With hundreds of tutors on the LearnMate platform, you’re bound to find someone local for any primary or high school year level! You can choose to have lessons in-person or online – whatever is easiest for you!

CLICK HERE TO SEARCH FOR A TUTOR NOW!
VCE English Literature Study Plan – Read Now!
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How to Think for Yourself in VCE English & VCE Literature!

HOW TO THINK FOR YOURSELF IN VCE ENGLISH & LITERATURE!

This article was written by Daniel Jean, a current VCE English & Literature tutor. Daniel currently is accepting students, so if you’re interested in his services, please go here


How to think for yourself – by Daniel Jean

In subjects like English, Literature and even Media, students don’t see the light – their vision is blurred by curriculums, course structures, study guides and even the ideas circulated in a class by their teachers. One needs to realise that all of the content in these subjects is open to interpretation, meaning that one can form their own point of view, wherever it stems from, and write freely on the concepts that appeal to them. Every author, be it of a novel, an opinion piece, or a film, uses symbolism, motifs, tone, characterisation to form their voice and explore different themes, often relative to their own lives and experiences. Just as a musician has his sounds, his melodies, his rhythm, writers have their own instruments of communication. As readers, we interpret these to process their stories, but more deeply, as students, we connect to their pieces through our Empathy. Through this innate human quality one truly understands a work and finds a relation to it. Thus, while the ideas proposed to your class by your teachers are important, or those you find online in discussion threads, or general observations of classmates and scholars, one should only use these as a stimulant to go deeper into the text they are studying, and to bring their own awareness of the text to newer levels. 

This level of Thought takes time – in the same way, you connect with your friends, your family, and even your pets – you can connect with the characters you are studying. While they remain as figures solely in your imagination, in a world created by the author, they still express emotions like you, have their own idiosyncrasies like you and face human conflicts similar to all of us. We are always fighting to understand something about ourselves, be it identity, purpose, or place. And these are like horizons in our mind, always eluding us, even when we believe we are getting closer. Hence why we constantly we read stories throughout our lifetime, why we interpret the world as we experience it, and why we have the urge to communicate to people: because we want to be understood, as if this is how we understand ourselves. This is the human condition. As a reader of a story, you are a spectator to someone else’s struggle with this – you face their internal questions with them as they navigate the chaos of their own world and you are a witness to their actions and reactions.

To think freely about a story you first need to make sense of the world created by the writer and the challenges they pose to their characters. And you can do this by looking into yourself. Think about how some characters let us down, how they force us to sympathise with their situation; or how others inspire us, how they make us dream. Reflect on who you are through this character – try to understand what emotions a character makes you feel, and ask yourself: Why do I want this character to continuing fighting for his or her cause? Why does this character validate what I believe? Why I am I asking the same questions to myself? Why am I not? Why does his or her world confuse me too? Often a narrative can present solutions to our own internal problems, even when we don’t realise it, as while everyone’s belief system is unique to them, all humans, fictional or not, have the same inherent instincts that one can connect to and learn from.

The first time I read The Catcher In The Rye it made me want to abandon school, my job, my family – all of my responsibilities – and meander about alone, drinking coffee and reading books – basically resisting adulthood, just like Holden Caulfield. To me, he was a hero. Yet after leaving high school and experiencing the third world, my perspective changed. I went to some raw parts of South East Asia and saw people in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar fighting to fulfil very basic human needs, such as food and shelter. They weren’t fighting to be someone in society, or someone resisting it – they were just trying to exist. There I realised that the mind can go down many tangents, often building up an idea of itself, like its own character within its own story. I read The Catcher In The Rye again when I returned home and saw that while Holden was an example of defiance by withstanding authority and fighting for his innocence, the only person he was truly defying was himself; and while this cause may appeal to someone young, whose internal dialogue is asking for definition – to someone more worldly, and free of teenage angst, Holden is ultimately insecure and afraid. It took a long time for me to realise this. But the beauty of the mind is that it absorbs and grows like a seed when you nourish it – hence the relevance of writers throughout history, as their works are like water and sun. All stories have periods of tension, of equilibrium, and a wider implication – and all of these moments occur organically, as in our own lives. The more time you spend with the characters, the more you will see their plight in yourself; and therefore when they’re questions are answered, so are yours, for all humans are made of related thoughts and feelings, and an author is only trying to communicate theirs. It becomes a message when you, the reader, the student, become its recipient – when you think and feel like the characters do, and find meaning in their lives through a connection to your own.


LearnMate is Australia’s leading tutoring agency offering private lessons in all primary & high school subjects including English, maths, science, humanities, foreign languages, and so much more. Our mission is simple: to provide professional, engaging and enthusiastic tutors to students, while also ensuring the student feels empowered and confident during their assessments! Ultimately, our goal is to empower students all over Australia to achieve amazing results and make their dreams come true!

LearnMate provides you with tailored, one-on-one lessons for tutoring in a variety of suburbs in MelbourneSydneyGeelongBrisbaneHobartCanberraPerth & Adelaide! With hundreds of tutors on the LearnMate platform, you’re bound to find someone local for any primary or high school year level! You can choose to have lessons in-person or online – whatever is easiest for you!

CLICK HERE TO SEARCH FOR A TUTOR NOW!
How to Think for Yourself in VCE English & VCE Literature!
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How to Study for VCE English Literature – The Three Common FAQs!

How to Study for VCE English Literature – The Three Common FAQs!

This article was written by Lydia, a VCE English Literature tutor. You can see more about Lydia’s tutoring services here.


  1. How do you produce a stand-out essay?

There is only one thing that lets you stand out from the thousands of talented students in Literature: originality. This means coming up with your own ideas about texts, and writing in a personal style. If you find this difficult, don’t stress: lateral thinking can be learned by practicing analysis, and my answer to the next question gives some ideas for developing creativity.

2. How do you even study for Literature?

As Literature has no conclusive answers, there are infinite methods of study. Here are some suggestions of things to do other than churning out essays:

  • Read around your texts. Don’t rely on study guides like most students, but find online analyses, literary critiques from your library, interviews with authors; options are endless. Do not substitute these concepts for your own ideas, but rather allow them to function as the basis for your own arguments.
  • Read books other than your school texts. This is something that I know most students dismiss as too difficult, but never underestimate the power of reading. Read the newspaper if you can’t manage a full book! It’s impossible to improve writing without reading.
  • Write out short paragraphs on your overall thoughts about your text – focus on what complex ideas you think the author is trying to convey. This is a great way of engaging deeply with the text, synthesising your own ideas, and will lead to impressive, complex essays

3. How do you manage time on the exam?

Writing two essays in as many hours is taxing! Ultimately, this is solved by strict time-management. Although people have different methods, usually it works best to complete the “passage analysis” first, while the passages from are still fresh in your mind from reading time. Always cut yourself off at an hour to move to your “perspectives” essay. You should even aim to write these essays in under an hour each, leaving all-important editing time and the opportunity to finish an incomplete essay in case all doesn’t go to plan.

My final tip is not to push yourself too early! If you aren’t ready, don’t attempt a full exam months before exam-time – work your way up to it throughout the year, and try to handwrite lots of essays (not always under time pressure) if this is an area of difficulty.


LearnMate is Australia’s leading tutoring agency offering private lessons in all primary & high school subjects including English, maths, science, humanities, foreign languages, and so much more. Our mission is simple: to provide professional, engaging and enthusiastic tutors to students, while also ensuring the student feels empowered and confident during their assessments! Ultimately, our goal is to empower students all over Australia to achieve amazing results and make their dreams come true!

LearnMate provides you with tailored, one-on-one lessons for tutoring in a variety of suburbs in MelbourneSydneyGeelongBrisbaneHobartCanberraPerth & Adelaide! With hundreds of tutors on the LearnMate platform, you’re bound to find someone local for any primary or high school year level! You can choose to have lessons in-person or online – whatever is easiest for you!

How to Study for VCE English Literature – The Three Common FAQs!
read more