ENGL 201: Formal Paper #2
Analyzing a Poem to Articulate Its Theme
4+ pp, due Tuesday, Nov. 10
For this assignment, you are to produce a formal academic essay in which you explain/argue for your interpretation of a poem’s THEME through carefully analyzing its literary elements. As with your short story analysis, I will provide you with a list to choose from.
Your essay shouldbegin by spelling out, in a thesis statement, your best understanding of the meaning/message/idea/insight the author seems to want to communicate to readers via the poem. Body paragraphs should support yourclaimby analyzingkey literary elements we have studied in this unit (levels of diction, concrete imagery, figures of speech, denotations/connotations of words, closed/open form), explaining their effects on readers and their role in the poem, showing how the elements work together to produce your understanding of the author’s meaning.
This assignment is analogous to your first essay in which you analyzed the theme of a short story. Most of the feedback you received on that essay will remain applicable to this paper, though the literary elements will be different.
You may organize the body of your paper according to a chronological reading of the lines, or bythevarious poetic elements. In either case you should include some discussion of the form of the poem, whether it is closed or open. You need not discuss every single word. Rather, you should think carefully about which words, phrases, and poetic elements seem most important to arrive at a careful understanding of the specific poem you have selected.
Make use of the textbook I asked you to order for class. Any edition of Norton’s Introduction to Literature textbooks will have sections on writing about literature generally, and writing about poems specifically, and will include examples of student essays to help guide you.
In addition, here are a few online resources for producing poetry analysis papers:
A few paper-writing tips:
Do not include information about your thinking process, or your writing process, as part of the content of your paper. Focus always on argumentation—on explaining to your reader what you understand the poem’s meaning to be
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