Format: Double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point font (Times New Roman)
Close reading is the basic mode of formal literary criticism and a powerful tool in both its own right or in the service of larger arguments.
It requires you to read beyond plot or gist and to concentrate on language, structure, imagery, metaphor, allusions, sound, syntax, punctuation, pacing, and the relation between parts. You’re not just paraphrasing; you’re digging deeper.
Your task: choose a poem by AI or Yeats that we’ve read for this class. Read it carefully. It will help if you like the poem or find it interesting.
Your essay will have an introduction, at least three body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
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Your introduction will have a hook, context, and a thesis.
The hook grabs the reader’s attention. It may be a famous quote or even a personal anecdote. It’s usually the first few sentences of the essay. Useful link on hooks: https://bid4papers.com/blog/hook-for-essay/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
Context in the introduction gives us the poet’s name and the title of the poem. It may give us a general overview of the "plot" of the poem.
Keep in mind that your context is moving us closer to your thesis.
For a close-reading essay, your thesis is not yet a focused argument about one particular element of the text, so much as an argument about the poem as a whole. If it helps, imagine your thesis is about the main predicament of the poem. Avoid general or vague thesis statements: "this poem is about love." I recommend finalizing your thesis after you’ve written the body paragraphs.
You may organize your body paragraphs around stanzas or lines, working your way through the poem from beginning to end. OR you may organize your body paragraphs around elements of craft (i.e. images, metaphors, enjambment). OR you may organize your body paragraphs around different themes or ideas in the poem. Your body paragraphs will each begin with a topic sentence that summarizes the organizing argument for that body paragraph. If you’re having trouble organizing your thoughts, come talk to me.
A note on analysis: close reading does NOT include:
1) Your personal experiences or your experience of reading the poem (be careful of any sentence that begins with "I" or "The reader").
2) The author’s life or any biographical detail.
3) Historical context, politics, etc.
All evidence/analysis in the body paragraphs should come directly from the poem and its language. The key to a good close-reading essay is strong analysis. Be specific!
The conclusion paragraph is not structured like a body paragraph. You will not need textual evidence or analysis. Your conclusion should reflect more generally on what your essay has proven through close reading. You may:
Sum up your overall observations.
Bring in an outside quote that is relevant in your mind.
Discuss more generally the work as a whole or its ideas/themes.
Discuss those themes outside the context of the actual text (i.e. gender equality is still an issue today).
Raise larger questions that are beyond the scope of your paper.
You’re trying to leave the reader with an interesting final impression. You might think about why this poem is significant, why it matters or what it has to say about the human condition. The conclusion is often the most "open" or "free" paragraph in an essay help online. Think of an interesting way to close your paper. The conclusion is often a little shorter than a body paragraph. That said, it’s usually no less than six sentences.
Poem chosen: “The Second Coming” by W.B. Yeats
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
Length: 4-5 pages (doc, docx, pdf). You will not need a Works Cited Page for this paper.
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