Understanding a passage of prose
Prose practical criticism might be considered to be a very curious activity. You are confronted with an extract from, more often than not, a novel, and asked to discuss it in detail. Nobody has ever read a novel in this way. We might read poetry slowly and carefully, but with a novel we just dash across the surface. It is because prose practical criticism is such a contrived academic exercise that examination papers often provide rather more directions than with a poem; there might be a list of questions — like comprehension questions — asking you to look at specific aspects of a passage. Essentially, however, as with a poem, you are being asked for your impression of what the passage is about and how it brings its subject to life, and at the end of the exercise you are expected to arrive at an enhanced understanding of the passage.
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