Assignment: Write a 750-1000 word literary analysis essay

Assignment: Write a 750-1000 word literary analysis essay of one text from an author studied in the first half of the term. This should be your own reading and is not a research essay so only consult the most basic of background sources. Do not recast an analysis you find in another source. Be sure to include a copy of the piece you are analyzing.
• William Blake
• Robert Burns
• William Wordsworth
• Samuel Taylor Coleridge
• John Keats
• Percy Shelley
• Lord Byron
• Alfred Tennyson
• Robert Browning
Explanation: One of the skills that often gets ignored in writing longer literary research papers is the ability to read a text and draw meaning from that reading. For this reason, this essay will allow you to engage deeply with a particular text. A literary analysis of a text explains in detail how the text communicates to the reader. Such a reading will require you to understand all aspects of the text and to have a grasp of the meaning of individual parts of the text in relation to the entire work. You are not, however, striving to be exhaustive in your “explanation” of the text, but rather you should strive to be selective in considering only those details that are significant to your own thematic understanding of the text.
Details: A literary analysis shows how certain aspects of the text contribute to a unified meaning. Each part of your essay, then, must relate to a clear, central idea. You are not, however, writing a paraphrase—do not just put the text in your own words. Instead, you are trying to get a sense of an overall meaning, the way the text communicates.
This essay should be easy to organize; working through the text from beginning to end makes the most sense (although in some cases, another organizational pattern works better). You should begin with an introduction indicating the main idea of the work—your take on the poem’s meaning. The rest of the paper will be a point by point analysis of how you arrived at that particular reading. Remember to mention lines, images, word choices, and other devices as support for your points. Show how all the writer’s tools come together to create the meaning you see in the text.
Prompt Questions and Ideas:
• What literary devices does the author use to create meaning: figures of speech, symbolism, allusion, sensory description, etc.?
• What issues or themes seem the most important, and what details support them?
• Is there a particular character, symbol or element in the poem worth analyzing in detail?
• What does the poem sound like? What effect does that sound have?
• What is the structure, meter and rhyme scheme of the poem? Why is it significant?
When you cite details from the poem, be sure to follow MLA conventions as your grade will be affected if you do not.

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