English Literature Subjects

what to talk about in English essays and discussions

When writing or talking about English literature, it is NOT a good idea to just repeat events in a book. What you should do is talk about some of these things:

  • The Author(s)

  • The Reader or Audience

  • Characters

  • Settings

  • Symbols

  • Poetic Devices

  • Choice of Words

  • Dialogue

  • Themes

  • Author’s Tools (see tab)


You're off to a good start if you're talking about one of these topics. But it's even better to talk about two or more of these topics together! For example:

“The author talks about Theme X, when Character Y does Z. Character Y doing Z is important for Theme X, because ...[fill in reason why it's important]."

“The reader is confronted by Theme X by the setting of Y. Setting of Y shows Theme X by having the characters doing Z in it often."

“Characters such as X or Y affect the reader by making them feel Z. Theme W is shown when readers feel Z."

The letters X, Y, Z are what you notice or think about in the source material. The reason I use letters X, Y, Z is because English is a mechanical system - it's things doing things together to create a result. In this case, that result is better writing and ideas!


It is just important to remember that any subject must be relevant to your source material (i.e. novel or article).

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