This assignment requires you to analyze the imagery, symbolism, and word choices of poetry to determine the argument being made by the poet.
To prepare, you should study the poems carefully, reading them several times while trying to visualize and feel the impressions of the words. Examine the denotations and connotations of words that stand out; perhaps the words are ambiguous or symbolic.
You might ask yourself some of the following questions: How does the imagery convey meaning? What particular attitude does it communicate or suggest? How fully developed are the images? Is there a controlling image? If so, what are its effects? Are there numerous images or only a few? Are there symbols? How do these things illustrate the purpose or argument of the poem? Also, you may want to do some research, focusing on critical analysis of the author and the specific works you are writing about.
Write a three page MLA style essay that includes at least one outside source and answers one of the following questions:
- Edwin Arlington Robinson’s poems are “portraits in words,” concise descriptions that evoke distinct characters. After closely examining “Mr. Flood’s Party,” “Miniver Cheevy,” and “Richard Cory,”determine your attitude toward these people. Are Eben, Miniver, and Richard worthy of sympathy? What common theme (or themes) run through these poems?
- Compare and contrast Robert Frost’s “Birches” and “Design.” Based on these poems, what is each speaker’s attitude about nature? About god? Is it the same in both poems? Are there conflicting messages and/or themes?
- Analyze Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” Then, construct an argument about the most significant themes of these poems. Are the arguments somehow similar? What are the common threads? You will need to determine the significance of the nature imagery utilized in both poems.
- Examine “Sex Without Love” by Sharon Olds. What is the speaker’s attitude toward this type of sex? What argument is she making? (Possible conclusion) What, if anything, can we infer about the speaker of this poem and her relationships?
- “Hotel California” by The Eagles has been called a cautionary tale about drug addiction, but others see beyond that narrow analysis. After considering the imagery, symbolism, and connotations, what should be considered the most significant theme (or themes) of this song?
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