The great part about a cartoon is that you can interpret and analyse it in so many different ways. But this delight often becomes quite the bane when it comes to an exam, and that’s why we set out to analyse GAMSAT cartoons: to give you an idea of how it can be done. Here’s a cartoon of the type you often see in GAMSAT. Follow us as we attempt to break into its delightful mire.
Back to the picture = words x 1000 equation. You’ve got to realise that a picture is very information rich,but it’s not just the things you can overtly that influence meaning. Let’s look at this article’s attached cartoon for an in depth analysis of meaning through drawing. We’ve deliberately chosen a non-political cartoon, as we’re sure you’ll have a gut full of them in your later prep.
How we like to break up the visual analysis of cartoons:
Setting: Child’s bedroom.
Props: The child’s bed. A comfy chair that seems to be a regular feature of the room. A bookshelf full of toys. A book of nursery rhymes.
Protagonists: A child and his father. The child is dressed for bed, the father clearly at least has gainful employment (if not upper/middle class) as shown by what he is wearing.
Expressions: Clearly the protagonists are interacting as they are looking at each other. The boy’s face shows youthful wonder and curiosity, the father’s amazement.
Even before we start to analyse the words spoken in the cartoon can you see how the artist is able to build up meaning through every carefully selected “artefact”. As these cartoons are not just for amusement,but are intended to convey meaning and opinions, of necessity everything in the picture will, more than likely, add to the overall meaning. There are so any assumptions we can make just from analyzing this simple cartoons picture. These are the assumptions we’ve come up with, see if you agree and if you can come up with any of your own:
- It’s night time.
- The family is at least middle class, as shown by the bedroom and the father’s clothes.
- The family has a good relationship.
- The child is between 4-8 years old (perhaps proved by the subject matter and choice of toys on the shelf).
What’s not shown in the picture is the context, we can assume this simple context is a child’s bedtime story. Rest assured with full featured political cartoons in the GAMSAT itself there will be a lot more contextualising needed. But the same analysis of the picture itself should still apply.