In all of your essays, whether they are demanded for your Written Assignments, your commentaries, or your Paper 2 essay, you can win the heart of your examiners by moving beyond the conventional verbs you use to talk about literature. Show, demonstrate, characterize, suggest, reveal, portray: all of these are good, valid and useful, and sometimes just the right one for your purposes.
However, maybe you’d like to extend your options.
How about ‘intimate’ for ‘suggest?’ ‘ The poet intimates that perhaps there is more to his resistance to romantic involvements than he lets on in the third stanza of the poem.’ Or ‘conjecture?’ ‘The play closes abruptly, leaving the reader to conjecture what exactly the outcome might be for this defeated woman.’
How about ‘conjecture’ for asking the reader to makes some guesses about what the purpose of that very short chapter in the novel is meant to achieve? Or ‘deduce’ the writer’s aim which is then confirmed in a later dramatic moment?
‘Divulge’ gives you a variant for ‘reveal’ or ‘show.’ ‘Only at the very end does the novelist divulge the crucial role this minor character has been playing in the disturbing final outcome.’
‘Render’ is a useful verb that one seldom sees in student essays. It can also be used as the verb root of ‘rendition,’ as another version of ‘show’ or ‘represent’: ‘the poet renders the striking freshness of this spring landscape in such a way that we can almost smell the air.’
And finally, in some student essays one comes across the verb ‘adumbrate.’ It tends to be striking and is often effective. It can work as ‘foreshadow’ or as a sketch or outline. Here’s a good link: see if you can come up with a useful way to include it in your critical essays about literature.