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    #1

    Question Using the appopriate tense in literary essays

    Good morning everybody,


    Well, When writing an essay about literature, a novel or a play for instance, is it preferable to write in the present (The Literary Present) or in the past tense? or rather it depends on the task( the tense that is used in the question).



    Thank you in advance.

  1. Raymott's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Using the appopriate tense in literary essays

    Quote Originally Posted by symaa View Post
    Good morning everybody,


    Well, When writing an essay about literature, a novel or a play for instance, is it preferable to write in the present (The Literary Present) or in the past tense? or rather it depends on the task( the tense that is used in the question).



    Thank you in advance.
    I would normally use the present tense when referring to what happens in the literary work. But you use the past tense for external facts.
    So, "Shakespeare wrote Hamlet in about 1600." But, "Hamlet speaks with his father's ghost"; "Ophelia drowns herself because ..."

    See here:
    http://www.vanderbilt.edu/writing/resources/Literary%20present%20tense.pdf
    Also do a search for "Literary present tense" and you'll get a better understanding from a selection of opinions.

    PS: Yes, if you're answering a question, you should keep to the tense of the question. If the question is "Why did Ophelia drown herself?" it would be reasonable to answer with "Ophelia drowned herself because ..."

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    #3

    Re: Using the appopriate tense in literary essays

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    I would normally use the present tense when referring to what happens in the literary work. But you use the past tense for external facts.
    So, "Shakespeare wrote Hamlet in about 1600." But, "Hamlet speaks with his father's ghost"; "Ophelia drowns herself because ..."

    See here:
    http://www.vanderbilt.edu/writing/resources/Literary%20present%20tense.pdf
    Also do a search for "Literary present tense" and you'll get a better understanding from a selection of opinions.

    PS: Yes, if you're answering a question, you should keep to the tense of the question. If the question is "Why did Ophelia drown herself?" it would be reasonable to answer with "Ophelia drowned herself because ..."
    Thank you so much for your answer.
    Best regards,

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