Your task, then, is to use critical analysis to write an essay which tells the reader three specific things about a poem that we have read and discussed in this class. The type of “things” that you will tell me about a poem are completely up to your imagination and critical interpretation skill

Major Essay #2: Critical Analysis
Length: 3 pages, typed, double-spaced, 12-point font
Other Requirements: At least THREE parenthetical citations, ONE source,
For more information, check the Rubric on the Blackboard Assignment Submission Page!
Your second major essay assignment is to use critical analysis to examine ONE of the poems we discussed in the poetry
unit. You can choose whichever poem that you wish—just make sure that it’s a poem that you are able to write at LEAST
three pages over.
Your task, then, is to use critical analysis to write an essay which tells the reader three specific things about a poem that
we have read and discussed in this class. The type of “things” that you will tell me about a poem are completely up to
your imagination and critical interpretation skill. Like your previous essays, which needed 3 points of comparison/contrast
between two subjects, your critical analysis essay needs 3 points of analysis, or 3 different things about the poem that you
would like to inform the reader of your essay about.
Example topics:
• “In his poem ‘Negro,’ Langston Hughes uses both bright and negative moments in the history of African
American culture, and reclaims a racial slur to show that he is proud of his heritage.”
• “Robert Frost depicts how desire and hate can destroy the world, an individual life, and a romantic
relationship through ‘Fire and Ice’”
• In the poem “And They Obey,” Carl Sandburg uses imagery, tone, and repetition to speak out against
war, conveying to the reader that war is a terrible, pointless thing that only causes problems and that
people will follow the orders of higher ups, without any resistance.
What is Critical Analysis?
The purpose of critical analysis is to use critical thinking to evaluate a work of art (in this case, poetry). The reason a
writer evaluates a work of art is to help people understand the piece of art in question. A critical analysis is subjective
because it expresses the author’s opinion or evaluation of a text. To write a critical analysis essay, the author must break
down and study the different parts of the poem the author chooses to write about. A critical essay will be very weak unless
the author fully understands what the author is trying to say. Reading to find meaning in a text is called Critical Reading.
Critical reading:
1. Identify the author’s thesis and purpose
2. Analyze the structure of the passage by identifying all main ideas
3. Consult a dictionary or encyclopedia to understand material that is unfamiliar to you
4. Make an outline of the work or write a description of it
5. Write a summary of the work
6. Determine the purpose which could be
o To inform with factual material
o To persuade with appeal to reason or emotions
o To entertain (to affect people’s emotions)
7. Evaluate the means by which the author has accomplished his purpose
• If the purpose is to inform, has the material been presented clearly, accurately, with order and coherence?
• If the purpose is to persuade, look for evidence, logical reasoning, contrary evidence
• If the purpose was to entertain, determine how emotions are affected: does it make you laugh, cry, angry? Why
did it affect you?
Avoid introducing your ideas by stating “I think” or “in my opinion.” Keep the focus on the subject of your analysis, not
on yourself. Identifying your opinions weakens them.
Always introduce the work. Do not assume that because your reader knows what you are writing about, you do not need
to mention the work’s title.
Other questions to consider: Is there a controversy surrounding either the passage or the subject which it concerns?
What about the subject matter is of current interest?
What is the overall value of the passage?
What are its strengths and weaknesses?
Support your thesis with detailed evidence from the text examined. Do not forget to document quotes and paraphrases.
Remember that the purpose of a critical analysis is not merely to inform, but also to evaluate the worth, utility, excellence,
distinction, truth, validity, beauty, or goodness of something.
Your review should provide information, interpretation, and evaluation. The information will help your reader understand
the nature of the work under analysis. The interpretation will explain the meaning of the work, therefore requiring your
correct understanding of it. The evaluation will discuss your opinions of the work and present valid justification for them.
Goals for Paper Criteria:
Papers will meet the following criteria:
• Main Idea/ purpose/ focus-The paper stays on topic, is unified, clear, defines terms and meets the
requirement of the topic.
• Organization/ structure-The paper includes the effective use of modes, has an introduction and
conclusion, and uses transitions.
• Content/ development-The paper contains specific details, full support, and development of ideas.
• Tone and Style- The paper is appropriately written for the declared audience.
• Grammar/ Mechanics-The paper demonstrates proper use of sentence construction, usage spelling
punctuation, and capitalization.
Format for Papers (MLA):
• Put your name, instructor’s name, the name of the course/ the assignment number/ and the date at
the top left of the first page, double-spaced. See MLA example.
• Have a title, centered at the top of the first page.
• Have your last name and page number at the top right side of each page. (Go to view/ headers and
footers—type your last name. Then go to insert page and add the page number.)
• All papers will be typed in size 12 font, double-spaced, using one-inch margins on “8 1/2 by 11” white
paper (NOTE: Microsoft Word margin default is 1.25 in.).
• You will turn in your papers via BlackBoard.
Because peer review is such an important part of learning to revise your work, it is extremely important that you
attend every workshop session fully prepared. Students who miss a workshop session or attend unprepared to
participate will be allowed to revise their paper, but will receive a 10 percentage point deduction on their
grade for that paper. For scheduled workshop sessions, you must bring a typed copy of your draft for your
workshop partners.
Revision Policy:
You may revise each major assignment only once. Revisions do not automatically receive a higher grade.
The revision must be a substantial improvement over the original paper and meet all criteria below to
receive a better grade.
• Simply making editing changes will not constitute a higher grade.
• Revisions are due no later than one week after the due date of the original paper.
• Major papers that are missing any of the required elements (i.e. notes, drafts, peer comments,
assignment sheet) will not be accepted for revision.
• Revisions must be submitted in the same format as the major papers, as listed above.
• Significant changes in your paper should be highlighted. Highlight new material in the new version and
remove material in the old version. Revisions submitted without highlighting will not be graded.
Written explanations of changes in the margins or on a separate page are required.
• You must have attended all workshop sessions for a major paper for its revision to be accepted.
Assignments are due at the start of class on the date indicated on the Calendar. Late assignments will be
penalized 10-percentage-points for every day they are late, not including weekends and holidays. Papers
later than 2 weeks will not be accepted, and the assignment will result in a zero. If you are having difficulty
completing an assignment, contact me for guidance

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