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A Significant Presentation on ‘Significance’. Significantly prepared by Mr. Huemiller. ‘Significance’ is a commonly-known and spoken word, but it can sometimes be hard to pin down a definition

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a significant presentation on significance

A Significant Presentation on ‘Significance’

Significantly prepared by Mr. Huemiller


‘Significance’ is a commonly-known and spoken word, but it can sometimes be hard to pin down a definition

  • Often, your English teacher(s) will ask you to state why a particular passage, quotation, or description of something is ‘significant’
  • Dictionary.com defines it as:
    • Importance or consequence
    • The quality of being significant

or having meaning

significance in english literature

When you are asked to state or explain the significance behind a passage/ quotation, you are basically being asked to specify the meaning or importance it has in the context of the text (novel, poem, film, article)

    • Why is it important to the text?
    • What does it contribute to the

overall meaning?

Significance in English Literature
significant in which way s

Passages or quotations can be significant in the context of the story/poem/etc. in multiple different ways:

    • They could reveal a particular theme or message that the author is communicating
    • They could relate to a major topic, issue, or conflict that is developing in the story
    • They could advance the plot or foreshadow a particular event that is still to come
    • They could develop a character’s personality or important relationships between characters
Significant in which way(s)?
selective significance

“But sir, my answer is 3 pages long – this quotation is significant in so many ways!”

  • You need to be selective, especially when responding on a time-dependent test or assignment!
  • Pick the most significant or obvious elements within the passage/quotation.
  • You may not always have time to discuss theme AND conflict AND plot AND character, etc.
  • Be succinct and not repetitive!
Selective Significance
relate back to the quotation passage in your response

One common issue with student responses about significance occurs when the response does not relate back to the actual passage or quotation at all.

  • You need to infer ideas using your own knowledge + what is presented in the text
  • BUT, make sure you are referring to what is specifically written in that passage too
Relate back to the Quotation/ Passage in your response!
example quotation

(To Kill A Mockingbird, p. 19)

Miss Caroline speaking to Scout:

“Now you tell your father not to teach you anymore. It’s best to begin reading with a fresh mind. You tell him I’ll take over from here and try to undo the damage–”

Example Quotation
example response

This quotation is significant because it is one of the events that initiates a growing tension between Scout and her new Grade 1 teacher, Miss Caroline during Scout’s first day of school. Atticus has been doing what he can as a working father, when he is at home with Scout, to teach her to read, mostly from the newspaper. However, Miss Caroline is telling Scout to cease learning from her father because it conflicts with her teaching method. Scout actually takes offense to this remark as she enjoys reading and learning with her father, which should be an admirable quality in a six year old girl, not something to be shunned. In this way, a possible theme or message could be evident that there should not be a limit placed on the various ways that people acquire knowledge. Knowledge is important in various forms, beyond only what is taught in school.

Example Response