English 1302, Composition II Poetry Analysis Assignment: Choose ONE of the prompts below; then write a 3-4 page poetry analysis in which you analyze the use of literary elements in one of the assigned poems listed: “America” (Claude McKay); “We Wear the Mask” (Paul Laurence Dunbar); “Harlem (A Dream Deferred)” (Langston Hughes); “Mirror” (Sylvia Plath); “The Bean Eaters” (Gwendolyn Brooks); “To The Mercy Killers” (Dudley Randall); “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” (Dylan Thomas).
Your purpose is to explicate (interpret) and analyze (examine) one poem, defending your interpretive claim (a clear, concise, debatable, and assertive thesis statement that explains what the poems mean and how literary elements (i. e. speaker, figurative language (metaphor, simile, synechdoche, metonymy, personification, hyperbole, oxymoron, paradox), imagery, sound patterns, format, theme, persona, tone, symbolism, connotation, or denotation) are employed to convey the poem’s message.
Your primary support must come from the poem itself; however, you will be required to incorporate at least two secondary sources into your work. You must use literary present verb tense in reference to the poem and sources; however, you may not use first-person (I, me, we, our, us), second-person (you) references, or contractions (isn’t( is not). Neither off topic nor late essays will be accepted; also, plagiarized essays automatically receive a zero, and they may not be made up. In this paper you will adhere to the following: Make and support a claim regarding some issue in an assigned poem. • Have a clearly-stated thesis that includes literary elements and gives the basic overview of your argument. • Use quotes from the poem to support your major points. Also, use literary criticism from relevant and reliable sources to support your major points. • Make interpretive arguments about the language, tone, imagery, and figures of speech in the poetry, all toward proving your thesis. • Put slashes between words to indicate a line break when quoting less than four lines: “We wear the mask that grins nd lies, / It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,–” • (Anything more than four lines should be put into block format, indenting 10 spaces and double spacing the text) The opening stanza of Louise Bogan’s “Women” startles readers by presenting a negative stereotype of women: Women have no wilderness in them, They are provident instead, Content in the tight hot cell of their hearts To eat dusty bread. (1-4) • Provide parenthetical citations that indicate line numbers for any quoted text. In the first reference, use the word “lines. ” Thereafter, use just numbers.
For example, the above lines would be followed by this notation: (lines 1-2). • Avoid writing merely a summary of the poem. Length: 3-4 pages (3-full page minimum); Works Cited page (MLA format) Format: MLA format: 1-inch margins, Times New Roman font, point-size 12; typed, double-spaced, printed; stapled; header and pagination Sources: 3 sources minimum (1-primary sources (the poem in the textbook); 2-secondary sources (scholarly literary criticism from books, journals, magazines, and newspapers)) Resources: TJC Library Databases (http://www. jc. edu/library/find_articles/); Purdue OWL (http://owl. english. purdue. edu/owl/resource/747/01/); Writing Center (Jenkins 1108); Literature and the Writing Process, pp. 98-106. Due Dates: Outline: ________________________ Peer Edit, Rough Draft (completed, typed, and printed): ________________________ Final Draft: Outline, Peer-edited Rough draft, Final draft: _______________________
Evaluation: Topic Selection/Appropriateness; Guidelines: Minimum length; MLA style (manuscript); Clear, assertive, and analytical thesis statement; Effective organization (structure), analyzing literary elements; Effective paragraph structure (topic sentences, unity, coherence, development); smooth and proper MLA integration (lead-in statement, concrete detail, commentary/analysis), citation (parenthetical citations), and documentation Works Cited); Good, varied sentence structure (few or no comma splices, fragments, and fused sentences; few or no errors in subject-verb agreement, pronoun-antecedent agreement, and verb tense consistency); Good word choice; Proper grammar and punctuation. Writing Prompts: 1. Examine and defend a claim about social protest poetry. Analyze theme in one or more of these poems: Claude McKay’s feelings in “America” about living in a racist country; analyze those expressed by Paul Laurence Dunbar in “We Wear the Mask”; or analyze those expressed by Langston Hughes in “Harlem (A Dream Deferred). 2. Examine and defend a claim about imagery OR symbolism in one or more of the following poems: Claude McKay’s “America,” Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “We Wear the Mask,” Gwendolyn Brook’s “The Bean Eaters,” or Sylvia Plath’s “Mirror. ” 3. Examine themes about identity (self, cultural, gender, professional, community/social, national), masks, and/or deception in one of these poems: Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “We Wear the Mask,” Sylvia Plath’s “Mirror,” or Claude McKay’s “America. ” 4.
Examine the use of irony (verbal, situational, dramatic) OR motivation (extrinsic, intrinsic) in one or more of these poems: Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “We Wear the Mask,” Langston Hughes’s “Harlem (A Dream Deferred), Dudley Randall’s “To The Mercy Killers,” Claude McKay’s “America,” Gwendolyn Brook’s “The Bean Eaters,” or Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night. ” 5. Examine theme, specifically the attitude toward death expressed in one or two of these poems: Dudley Randall’s “To The Mercy Killers” or Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night. 6. Examine conflict (internal and external) in one or more of these poems: Claude McKay’s “America,” Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “We Wear the Mask,” Gwendolyn Brook’s “The Bean Eaters,” Dudley Randall’s “To the Mercy Killers,” Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night. ” 7. Examine persona or speaker in one or more of these poems: Claude McKay’s “America,” Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “We Wear the Mask,” Sylvia Plath’s “Mirror,” Dudley Randall’s “To the Mercy Killers,” Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night. 8. Examine some aspect of figurative language (simile, metaphor, personification, hyperbole, synecdoche, metonymy) in one or more of these poems: McKay’s “America,” Plath’s “Mirror,” Brook’s “The Bean Eaters,” Hughe’s “Harlem (A Dream Deferred). ” Scratch Outline: Poetry Analysis I. Introduction A. Attention-Getter (Hook) B. Background Information (T-A-G) C. Thesis Statement: The “Poem” relies on figurative language, imagery, and tone to convey this theme. Thesis should be clear, concise, assertive, and arguable) II. Body Paragraphs A. Poem Synopsis (Summary) 1. Point 1 2. Point 2 B. Poem’s Theme 1. Identity a. concrete detail b. concrete detail 2. Denial/Deception a. concrete detail b. concrete detail B. Poem’s Explication (Explanation): Figurative Language 1. Metaphor 2. Personification C. Poem’s Explication: Imagery 1. Visual 2. Tactile D. Poem’s Explication: Tone 1. Reflective 2. Resigned III. Conclusion IV. Works Cited
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