English Literature, Language and Composition
Advanced Placement Handbook
Elkins High School Pre-AP/AP Program
Paula Jay, English IV AP
Barbara Fernelius, English III AP
Bonnie Bonnette, English III AP
Penny Morris, English II Pre-AP
Angela Poth, English II Pre-AP
Rhonda Cavender, English I Pre-AP
Daniel Robison, English I Pre-AP
Created Summer 2000
Students in Elkins High School English Pre-AP/AP Program
Dear AP Student and Parent,
You (or your teenager) have chosen to participate in an Advanced Placement class at Elkins High
School. This course offers the opportunity for motivated students to do college level work in high
school and possibly to qualify for college credit upon taking the AP exam for this course in May.
Advanced Placement courses not only provide students with advanced knowledge necessary for the
passing of the AP exam, but also provide students with skills needed for a successful college
experience. Advanced Placement courses emphasize critical thinking skills and analysis, problem
solving, and written communication. These courses are college level classes, and the expectations
for students are higher than in a regular high school course. The amount of time required to do well
is also greater.
Because of the potential reward and the challenge involved, students are expected to make a
commitment of time and effort. We have found that success in this course is likely only if students
and parents are truly prepared to make this commitment. Therefore, students have an opportunity
to move to an advanced class only after progress reports are issued during the first six
weeks, at the immediate end of the first six weeks grading period or at the immediate end of
We have also found that the teacher, student, and parent must all work toward the goal of a
successful Advanced Placement experience. To this end, we expect that
1. Maintain a satisfactory grade average in order to remain in the class
2. Consistently come to class prepared for discussion and all class activities
3. Complete all summer assignments
4. Assume responsibility for all assignments, deadlines, and any work missed when absent
5. Be prepared to spend study time each night on this class
1. Help students accept responsibility for class assignments and deadlines
2. Expect the best effort from the students but be realistic in their expectations
3. Work with the teacher to encourage students to achieve academic success
4. Review with students his/her progress each six weeks
1. Focus on helping students become independent, critical thinkers and responsible, life-long
2. Challenge students to reach their full potential
3. Teach higher level thinking and analytical skills
4. Emphasize written and verbal skills
AP teachers are chosen to teach these courses because they are motivated and dedicated to student
success. They look forward to working with your student. Please feel comfortable contacting the
teacher with any questions or concerns that arise during the year.
Principal, Elkins High School
Table of Contents
Section 1: The AP Exam 1
Tips for Taking the AP Exam 3
Poetry Essay Questions 4
Open- Ended Questions 7
Argumentation Questions 10
AP Scoring Guide 11
Section 2: The Study of Language 13
Analyzing Style 15
Types of Language Essays 18
Language Question Stems 19
Questions for Analysis of Prose Passages 20
Rhetorical Devices 21
Rhetorical Strategies 23
What to Look for in Analyzing Rhetoric 24
Sentence Variety 26
Types of Sentences 29
Terms for the AP English Language Exam 32
Terms for the Essay Section 41
Logic and Fallacies 43
Syntax: Sentence Structure, A Component of Style 46
Rhetoric in the Advanced Placement English Program 50
Method for Analyzing Non-fiction 51
Section 3: The Study of Literature 55
The Short Story 57
Tips for Answering Style Questions 60
A Method for the Analysis of Fiction 61
Critical Approaches Important to the Study of Literature 63
Analyzing Tone or Attitude in Literature 72
Archetypes—Archetypal Criticism 78
Poetry Analysis: Covering all of the Basics 81
Film Terms Glossary 83
Close Reading Sentence Stems 85
Style Analysis Terminology for the AP Exam 88
Analyzing Diction and Imagery in a Passage 89
Figurative Language 90
Organization/Structure in Literature 91
Point of View: Tradition and Conventions 92
Analysis of a Prose Passage: Description or Narration 95
Section 4: The Study of Grammar and Composition 97
“Do it and Cry” List 99
Capitalization Rules 102
Connecting Words 103
Rules for Using the Comma and the Semi-Colon 107
Subject-Verb Agreement 109
Use of Transitional Words or Phrases 110
Principal Parts of Irregular Verbs 111
Incorporating Quotations into an Essay 112
Section 5: Learning Activities 115
Précis a la Jay 117
Oral Defense 118
Frozen Vignettes 120
Socratic Seminar 121
Fishbowl Discussion 124
Learning Through Discussion 126
Books/Art Publishing 127
Section 1: The AP Exam
Tips on Taking the AP Test
When the course work is finished and the last essay written, one question remains: What do I need to
know for the Advanced Placement Test? The list below is a compilation of formulas that have proven
successful and is addressed to students.
1. Make very sure you understand what is called for in the question. Reread it several times,
underlining key words of instruction. Pay attention to special warnings, such as “Avoid plot
summary” and heed these directions.
2. Make a skeletal outline before you begin to write your essay answers, in order to assure logical
progression from thesis statement to conclusion. Keep your answer directed to the question,
using key words or key concepts in your essay. Make sure your evidence of support is relevant.
Do not pad your essay with redundancy. Keep your conclusion brief and do not belabor the
points you wish to stress.
3. Store in your mind at least two twentieth century novels of literary merit with which you are most
familiar. Make sure you have clearly in your mind the titles, authors, opening paragraphs,
characters, inner or outer conflicts, themes, any prominent stylistic devices and thematic
implications. It is much better to be extremely knowledgeable of two novels than to be slightly
knowledgeable of ten.
4. Store in your mind at least two modern dramas of literary merit with which you are most familiar.
Know the titles, opening and closing scenes, characters, which conflicts are present, themes,
production devices and thematic implications. Make sure you select plays by different authors; it
will be more profitable for you to know one play by Ibsen and one by Williams, for instance, than
two plays by one author.
5. Store in your mind at least two plays by William Shakespeare. One tragedy and one comedy or
historical play would be advisable. Know the settings, major characters, rising and falling action,
as well as opening and concluding scenes. Do no use terms such as “soliloquy” or “comic relief”
unless you are definite in your understanding of their purpose.
6. Be confident of your reading comprehension skills in nonfiction. If such a selection is included in
the AP test, read it carefully, always looking for main ideas, central images, allusions, point of
view and tone. Underline those lines which reveal these elements.
7. Make sure your poetic background is strong enough that you are comfortable with this genre.
Include line numbers when you use them as references in your essay. Be aware of any poetic
devices that may appear in the poem you are asked to write about. Reread the poem until you
feel comfortable with its meaning.
8. Come to the test location rested and mentally alert. Do not spend your final class days
cramming; this approach will only add to the apprehension of the test. It is better to spend your
time strengthening your already strong areas, than trying to learn new information at this point.
9. Write your answers as legibly and as intelligently as you know how. You do not want to
antagonize your AP reader with sloppy penmanship, grammar, or spelling, although these are not
used in the criteria for your score.
10. Know that you are well prepared for the test if you have done well on your class assignments.
You are as capable of success as any other high school student who is taking this test at this
Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition
Poetry Essay Questions
1971 Poem: 'Elegy for Jane' (Theodore Roethke)
Prompt: Write an essay in which you describe the speaker's attitude toward his former student, Jane.
1972 Poem: 'The Unknown Citizen' (W.H. Auden)
Prompt: In a brief essay, identify at least two of the implications implicit in the society reflected in the
poem. Support your statements by specific references to the poem.
1973 NO POEM
1974 Poem: 'I wonder whether one expects...' (No poet given)
Prompt: Write a unified essay in which you relate the imagery of the last stanza to the speaker's view
of himself earlier in the poem and to his view of how others see poets.
1975 NO POEM
1976 Poem: 'Poetry of Departures' (Philip Larkin)
Prompt: Write an essay in which you discuss how the poem's diction (choice of words) reveals his
attitude toward the two ways of living mentioned in the poem.
1977 Poem: 'Piano' [2 poems with the same name] (D.H. Lawrence)
Prompt: Read both poems carefully and then write an essay in which you explain what characteristics
of the second poem make it better than the first. Refer specifically to details of both poems.
1978 Poem 'Law Like Love' (W.H. Auden)
Prompt: Read the poem and the write an essay discussing the differences between the conceptions
of 'law' in lines 1-34 and those in lines 35-60.
1979 Poem: 'Spring And All' (William Carlos Williams) ‘For Jane Meyers' (Louise Gluck)
Prompt: Read the two poems carefully. Then write a well-organized essay in which you show how the
attitudes towards the coming of spring implied in these two poems differ from each other. Support
your statements with specific references to the texts.
1980 Poem: 'One Art’ (Elizabeth Bishop)
Prompt: Write an essay in which you describe how the speaker's attitude toward loss in lines 16-19 is
related to her attitude toward loss in lines 1- 15. Using specific references to the text, show how verse
form and language contribute to the reader's understanding of these attitudes.
1981 Poem: ‘Storm Warnings' (Adrienne Rich)
Prompt: Write an essay in which you explain how the organization of the poem and the use of
concrete details reveal both its literal and its metaphorical meanings. In your discussion, show how
both of these meanings relate to the title.
1982 Poem: 'The Groundhog' (Richard Eberhart)
Prompt: Write an essay in which you analyze how the language of the poem reflects the changing
perceptions and emotions of the speaker as he considers the metamorphosis of the dead groundho),
Develop your essay with specific references to the text of the poem.
1983 Poem:' Clocks and Lovers' (W.H. Auden)
Prompt: Write a well-organized essay in which you contrast the attitude of the clocks with that of the
lover. Through careful analysis of the language and imagery, show how this contrast is important to
the meaning of the poem.
1984 NO POEM
1985 Poem: 'There Was A Boy' (William Wordsworth) ‘The Most of It' (Robert Frost)
Prompt: These two poems present encounters with nature, but the two poets handle those
encounters very differently. In a well-organized essay, distinguish between the attitudes (toward
nature, toward the solitary individual, etc.) expressed in the poems and discuss the techniques that
the poets use to present these attitudes. Be sure to support your statements with specific references.
1986 Poem: 'Ogun' (EK. Braithwaite)
Prompt: Read the poem. You will note that it has two major sections that are joined by another
section lines 21-26. Write an essay in which you discuss how the diction, imagery, and movement of
verse in the poem reflect differences in tone and content between the two larger sections.
1987 Poem: 'Sow' (Sylvia Plath)
Prompt: Read the poem. Then write an essay in which you analyze the presentation of the sow.
Consider particularly how the language of the poem reflects both the neighbor's and the narrator's
perceptions of the sow and how the language determines the reader's perceptions. Be certain to
discuss how the portrayal of the sow is enhanced by such features as diction, devices of sound,
images, and allusions.
1988 Poem: 'Bright Star' (John Keats) ‘Choose Something Like a Star' ( Robert Frost)
Prompt: Read the following two poems very carefully, noting that the second includes an allusion to
the first. Then write a well-organized essay in which you discuss their similarities and differences. In
your essay, be sure to consider both theme and style.
1989 Poem: 'The Great Scarf of Birds' (John Updike)
Prompt: Write a well-organized essay in which you analyze how the poem's organization, diction, and
figurative language prepare the reader for the speaker's concluding response.
1990 Poem: Soliloquy from Henry IV, Part H (Shakespeare)
Prompt: In the soliloquy, King Henry laments his inability to sleep. In a well-organized essay, briefly
summarize the King's thoughts and analyze how the diction, imagery, and syntax help to convey his
state of mind.
1991 Poem: 'The Last Night that She lived...' (Emily Dickinson)
Prompt: Write an essay in which you describe the speaker's attitude toward the woman's death.
Using specific references from the text, show how the use of language reveals the speaker's attitude.
1992 Poem: 'The Prelude' (William Wordsworth)
Prompt: In the passage below, which comes from William Wordsworth's autobiographical poem 'The
Prelude,’ the speaker encounters unfamiliar aspects of the natural world. Write an essay in which you
trace the speaker's changing responses to his experiences and explain how they are conveyed by the
poem's diction, imagery, and tone.
1993 Poem: 'The Centaur' (May Swenson)
Prompt: Read the following poem carefully. Then write an essay in which you discuss how such
elements as language, imagery, structure, and point of view convey meaning in the poem.
1994 Poems: 'To Helen' (Edgar Allan Poe) ‘Helen' (H.D.)
Prompt: The following two poems are about Helen of Troy. Renowned in the ancient world for her
beauty, Helen was the wife of Menelaus, a Greek King. She was carried off to Troy by the Trojan
prince Paris, and her abduction was the immediate cause of the Trojan War.
Read the two poems carefully. Considering such elements as speaker, diction, imagery. form, and
tone, write a well-organized essay in which you contrast the speakers' views of Helen.
1995 Poem: 'The Broken Heart' (John Donne)
Prompt: Read the following poem carefully. Then, in a well-organized essay, analyze how the
speaker uses the varied imagery of the poem to reveal his attitude toward the nature of love.
1996 Poem: "The Author to Her Book" (Anne Bradstreet)
Prompt: Read carefully the following poem by the colonial American poet, Anne Bradstreet. Then
write a well-organized essay in which you discuss how the poem's controlling metaphor expresses
the complex attitude of the speaker.
1997 Poem: "The Death of a Toad" (Richard Wilbur)
Prompt: Read the following poem carefully. Then write a well-organized essay in which you explain
how formal elements such as structure, syntax, diction, and imagery reveal the Speaker's response to
the death of a toad.
1998 Poem: "It's a Woman's World" (Eavan Boland)
Prompt: The following poem was written by a contemporary Irish woman, Eavan Boland. Read the
poem carefully and then write an essay in which you analyze how the poem reveals the speaker's
complex conception of a "woman's world."
1999 Poem: “Blueberry-Picking” (Seamus Henry)
Prompt: Read the following poem carefully, paying particular attention to the physical intensity of the
language. Then write a well-written essay in which you explain how the poet conveys not just a literal
description of picking blackberries but a deeper understanding of the whole experience. You may
wish to include analysis of such elements as diction, imagery, metaphor, rhyme, rhythm, and form.
Open-ended Questions for Advanced Placement English Literature
1970. Choose a character from a recognized literary merit and write an essay in which you (a) briefly
describe the standards of the fictional society in which the character exists and (b) show how the
character is affected by and responds to those standards. In your essay do not merely summarize the
1971. The significance of a title such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is so easy to discover.
However, in other works (for example, Measure for Measure) the full significance of the title becomes
apparent to the reader only gradually. Choose two works and show how the significance of their
respective titles is developed through the authors' use of devices such as contrast, repetition,
allusion, and point of view.
1972. In retrospect, the reader often discovers that the first chapter of a novel or the opening scene of
a drama introduces some of the major themes of the work. Write an essay about the opening scene
of a drama or the first chapter of a novel in which you explain how it functions in this way.
1973. An effective literary work does not merely stop or cease; it concludes. In the view of some
critics, a work that does not provide the pleasure of significant closure has terminated with an artistic
fault. A satisfactory ending in not, however, always conclusive in every sense; significant closure may
require the reader to abide with or adjust to ambiguity and uncertainty. In an essay, discuss the
ending of a novel or play of acknowledged literary merit. Explain precisely how and why the ending
appropriately or inappropriately concludes the work. Do not merely summarize the plot.
1974. Choose a work of literature written before 1900. Write an essay in which you present
arguments for and against the works relevance for a person in 1974. Your own position should
emerge in the course of your essay. You may refer to works of literature written after 1900 for the
purpose of contrast or comparison.
1975. Although literary critics have tended to praise the unique in literary characterizations, many
authors have employed the stereotyped character successfully. Select one work of acknowledged
literary merit and in a well-written essay, show how the conventional or stereotyped character or
characters function to achieve the authors' purpose.
1976. The conflict created when the will of an individual opposes the will of the majority is the
recurring theme of many novels, plays, and essays.
Select the work of an essayist who is in opposition to his or her society; or from a work of recognized
literary merit, select a fictional character who is in opposition to his or her society. In a critical essay,
analyze the conflict and discuss the moral and ethical implications for both the individual and the
society. Do not summarize the plot or action of the work you choose.
1977. In some novels and plays certain parallel or recurring events prove to be significant. In an
essay, describe the major similarities and differences in a sequence of parallel or recurring events in
a novel or play and discuss the significance of such events. Do not merely summarize the plot.
1978. Choose an implausible or strikingly unrealistic incident or character in a work of fiction or drama
of recognized literary merit. Write an essay that explains how the incident or character is related to
the more realistic of plausible elements in the rest of the work. Avoid plot summary.
1979. Choose a complex and important character in a novel or a play of recognized literary merit who
might on the basis of the characters actions alone be considered evil or immoral. In a well-organized
essay, explain both how and why the full presentation of the character in the work makes us react
more sympathetically than we otherwise might. Avoid plot summary.
1980. A recurring theme in literature is the classic war between a passion and responsibility. For
instance, a personal cause, a love, a desire for revenge, a determination to redress a wrong, or some
other emotion or drive may conflict with moral duty. Choose a literary work in which a character
confronts the demands of a private passion that conflicts with his or her responsibilities. In a
well-written essay show clearly the nature of the conflict, its effects upon the character, and its
significance to the work.
1981. The meaning of some literary works is often enhanced by sustained allusion to myths, the
Bible, or other works of literature. Select a literary work that makes use of such a sustained reference.
then write a well-organized essay in which you explain the allusion that predominates in the work and
analyze how it enhances the work's meaning.
1982. In great literature, no scene of violence exists for its own sake. Choose a work of literary merit
that confronts the reader or audience with a scene or scenes of violence. In a well-organized essay,
explain how the scene or scenes contribute to the meaning of the complete work. Avoid plot
1983. From a novel or play of literary merit, select an important character who is a villain. Then, in a
well-organized essay, analyze the nature of the character's villainy and show how it enhances
meaning in the work. Do not merely summarize the plot.
1984. Select a line or so of poetry, or a moment or scene in a novel, epic poem, or play that you find
especially memorable. Write an essay in which you identify the line or the passage, explain its
relationship to the work in which it is found, and analyze the reasons for its effectiveness.
1985. A critic has said that one important measure of a superior work of literature is its ability to
produce in the reader a healthy confusion of pleasure and disquietude. Select a literary work that
produces this "healthy confusion." Write an essay in which you explain the sources of the "pleasure
and disquietude" experienced by the readers of the work.
1986. Some works of literature use the element of time in a distinct way. The chronological sequence
of events may be altered, or time may be suspended or accelerated. Choose a novel, an epic, or a
play of recognized literary merit and show how the author's manipulation of time contributes to the
effectiveness of the work as a whole. Do not merely summarize the plot.
1987. Some novels and plays seem to advocate changes in social or political attitudes or in traditions.
Choose such a novel or play and note briefly the particular attitudes or traditions that the author
apparently wishes to modify. Then analyze the techniques the author uses to influence the reader's or
audience's views. Avoid plot summary.
1988. Choose a distinguished novel or play in which some of the most significant events are mental
or psychological; for example, awakenings, discoveries, changes in consciousness. In a
well-organized essay, describe how the author manages to give these internal events the sense of
excitement, suspense, and climax usually associated with external action. Do not merely summarize
1989. In questioning the value of literary realism, Flannery O'Connor has written, "I am interested in
making a good case for distortion because I am coming to believe that it is the only way to make
people see." Write an essay in which you "make a good case for distortion," as distinct from literary
realism. Analyze how important elements of the work you choose are "distorted" and explain how
these distortions contribute to the effectiveness of the work. Avoid plot summary.
1990. Choose a novel or play that depicts a conflict between a parent (or a parental figure) and a son
or daughter. Write an essay in which you analyze the sources of the conflict and explain how the
conflict contributes to the meaning of the work. Avoid plot summary.
1991. Many plays and novels use contrasting places (for example, two countries, two cities or towns,
two houses, or the land and the sea) to represent opposed forces or ideas that are central to the
meaning of the work.
Choose a novel or play that contrasts two such places. Write an essay explaining how the places
differ, what each place represents, and how their contrast contributes to the meaning of the work.
1992. In a novel or play, a confidant (male) or a confidante (female) is a character, often a friend or
relative of the hero or heroine, whose role is to be present when the hero or heroine needs a
sympathetic listener to confide in. Frequently the result is, as Henry James remarked, that the
confidant or confidante can be as much "the reader's friend as the protagonist's." However, the author
sometimes uses this character for other purposes as well. Choose a confidant or confidante from a
novel or play of recognized literary merit and write an essay in which you discuss the various ways
this character functions in the work. You may write your essay on one of the following novels or plays
or on another of comparable quality. Do not write on a poem or short story.
1993. "The true test of comedy is that it shall awaken thoughtful laughter." Choose a novel, play, or
long poem in which a scene or character awakens "thoughtful laughter" in the reader. Write an essay
in which you show why this laughter is "thoughtful" and how it contributes to the meaning of the work.
1994. In some works of literature, a character who appears briefly, or does not appear at all, is a
significant presence. Choose a novel or play of literary merit and write an essay in which you show
how such a character functions in the work. You may wish to discuss how the character affects
action, theme, or the development of other characters. Avoid plot summary.
1995. Writers often highlight the values of a culture or a society by using characters who are
alienated from that culture or society because of gender, race, class, or creed. Choose a novel or a
play in which such a character plays a significant role and show how that character's alienation
reveals the surrounding society's assumptions or moral values.
1996. The British novelist Fay Weldon offers this observation about happy endings. "The writers, I do
believe, who get the best and most lasting response from their readers are the writers who offer a
happy ending through moral development. By a happy ending, I do not mean mere fortunate events--
a marriage or a last minute rescue from death-- but some kind of spiritual reassessment or moral
reconciliation, even with the self, even at death." Choose a novel or play that has the kind of ending
Weldon describes. In a well-written essay, identify the "spiritual reassessment or moral reconciliation"
evident in the ending and explain its significance in the work as a whole.
1997. Novels and plays often include scenes of weddings, funerals, parties, and other social
occasions. Such scenes may reveal the values of the characters and the society in which they live.
Select a novel or play that includes such a scene and, in a focused essay, discuss the contribution
the scene makes to the meaning of the work as a whole. You may choose a work from the list below
or another novel or play of literary merit.
Argumentation Questions for Advanced Placement English Language
1989. Our perceptions of people often differ according to our attitudes and circumstances. Describe
in a vivid and concrete way one person seen at two different times (or in two different situations) so
that the reader understands the difference in your attitude.
1991. The first chapter of Ecclesiastes, a book in the Bible, concludes with these words…
Write a carefully reasoned essay that defends, challenges, or qualifies this assertion. Use evidence
from your observations, experience, or reading to develop your position.
1995. The paragraph below comes from a 1979 essay by expatriate African American writer James
Baldwin. Read the paragraph carefully and then write an essay that defends, challenges, or qualifies
Baldwin’s ideas about the importance of language as a “key to identity” and to social acceptance.
Use specific evidence from your observation, experience, or reading to develop your position.
1996. In his book Money and Class in America, Lewis Lapham makes the following observation
about attitudes toward wealth in the United States. Drawing on your own knowledge and experience,
write a carefully reasoned essay defending, challenging, or qualifying Lapham’s view of “the
American faith in money.”
1997. In the following passage, the contemporary social critic Neil Postman contrasts George
Orwell’s vision of the future, as expressed in the novel 1984 (written in 1948), with that of Aldous
Huxley in the novel Brave New World (1936). Read the passage, considering Postman’s assertion
that Huxley’s vision is more relevant today than is Orwell’s. Then, using your own critical
understanding of contemporary society as evidence, write a carefully argued essay that agrees or
disagrees with Postman’s assertion.
1999. In the following excerpt from Antigone, by the classical Greek playwright Sophocles, the wise
Take some time to think about the implications of the quotation. Then write a carefully reasoned
essay that explores the validity of the assertion, using examples from your reading, observation, or
experience to develop your position.
2000. The lines above are from a speech by King Lear. Write a carefully reasoned essay in which
you briefly paraphrase Lear’s statement and then defend, challenge, or qualify his view of the
relationship between wealth and justice. Support your argument with specific references to your
reading, observation, or experience.
AP Scoring Guide
Score Grade Criteria
9 97 Essays earning a 9 meet all of the criteria for 8 papers and, in addition, have
a more effective prose style, are particularly apt in analysis, and demonstrate
8 93 Essays earning an 8 establish a clear sense of the writer’s understanding of
the prompt and the passage as well as control of the language. They are
specific in their references, and provide unique, imaginative, and creative
positions, examples, or points. The 8 paper demonstrates communication
using varied sentence structure and vocabulary but need be without flaws.
7 89 Essays earning a 7 fit the description of 6 essays but are more distinguished
from them by fuller analysis or stronger prose style.
6 85 Essays earning a six possess a degree of clarity with adequate support that
convinces the reader of the writer’s position. They relate all the examples to
the thesis and move logically from point to point to conclusion. These
essays are well-written but with less maturity, depth, or control than the top
papers. They demonstrate the writer’s ability to analyze a literary work, but
they reveal a more limited understanding than do papers in the upper range.
5 81 Essays earning a 5 state a position, but their analysis of the topic is limited
and/or inconsistently pertinent. Superficiality, somewhat simplistic thinking
and/or immature planning or clarity may be evident.
4 77 Essays earning a 4 respond inadequately to the prompt. They may have the
“what” but not the “how” or “why.” Often, they misrepresent the position,
analyze with limited purpose or accuracy, and/or identify various events of
passages without relating them to the thesis. They may include listing or plot
summary. The 4 paper denotes a reasonable, yet ineffective or inconsistent
control of organization, diction, and syntax.
3 73 Essays earning a 3 are described by the criteria of the 4 paper but are
particularly unperceptive in their attempts to discuss the prompt and
demonstrate more problems in communication such as language control or
2 69 Essays earning a 2 demonstrate little success in dealing with the task of
analysis in the prompt or in establishing a position. Some essays substitute
a simpler task or do not use the literature as a foundation. The 2 paper
demonstrates an inability of the writer to control the various elements of
1 50 Essays earning a 1 have all of the qualities of the 2 paper but are even more
simplistic and possess less control of the language. Some fail to respond to
the prompt or simply paraphrase.
Section 2: The Study of Language
When you analyze an author's style, you consider the following components:
DICTION repetition (motifs, refrains words that echo previous ones)
level of diction (elevated? provincial? archaic? erudite? colloquial? slang?)
The denotative meaning is the dictionary meaning .
Connotation is what the word suggests beyond what it egresses: its
overtones of meaning "Childlike" and "childish" denotatively both mean
"characteristic of a child," but "childlike" suggests meekness and innocence
and "childish" pettiness and temper tantrum. For further elaboration of
connotation, consider Emily Dickinson's poem "There is no frigate like a
There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll
How frugal is the chariot
That bears the human soul!
Dickinson considers "the power of a book or of poetry to carry us away, to take us from our immediate
surroundings into a world of the imagination. To do this, she has compared literature to various
means of transportation: a boat, a team of horses, a wheeled land vehicle. But she has been careful
to choose kinds of transportation and names for them that have romantic connotations. "Frigate"
suggests exploration and adventure; "coursers," beauty, spirit, and speed; "chariot," speed and the
ability to go through the air as well as on land.... How much of the meaning of the poem comes from
this selection of vehicles and words is apparent if we try to substitute steamship for "frigate," horses
for "coursers," and streetcar for "chariot.'"
DETAILS bits of specific information, especially description and actions
IMAGERY words or phrases that evoke the sensations of sight, hearing, touch, smell, or taste
FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE see SSSPOPIAM
SYNTAX refers to the way words and phrases are arranged to form phrases and sentences: the
arrangement of the words in a sentence
sentence length- for example, a very brief sentence among long sentences may signal such
elements as abruptness, surprise, change in tone, or shift in point of view
sentence patterns- (simple, compound, complex)
punctuation- (think about Poe's use of dashes in the first paragraph of "The Fall of the House of
parallelism- elements of equal importance are similarly phrased
antithesis- figure of speech characterized by strongly contrasting words, clauses, sentences, or
ideas-consider this sentence from 'The Gettysburg Address": The world will little note, nor long
remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.”
balanced sentences ("To err is human; to forgive, divine" --Pope)
tricolon-Lincoln's three-part sentence in 'The Gettysburg Address" is a fine example of a tricolon with
embedded inside it: "that we here highly resolve
1) that these dead shall not have died in vain
2) that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom
3) that government
1) of the people
2) 2) by the people
3) 3) for the people shall not perish from the earth."
sentence types- (questions, exclamations, commands or imperative sentences, aphorism)
periodic/loose sentences- Periodic means that the reader must read all the way to the period before
getting the full impact. The main clause or main verb comes at the end. A loose or cumulative
sentence adds on details after the verb. Periodics build up to a climax..."it is nothing but the mere
pleasure of God, and that of an angry God, without any promise or obligation at all, that keeps the
arrow one moment from being made drunk with your blood." Loose sentences work well to pile up
details. The main clause is followed by additional details or examples. Here is an example: "Ask
yourself what would happen to the world of tomorrow if there is complete automation, if robots
become practical, if the disease of old age is cured, if hydrogen fusion is made a workable
source of energy."
To help you remember these five components of style, here is a mnemonic device:
D-diction (but always examine diction first)
S-syntax (sentence structure)
FIDDS-figurative language, imagery, diction, details, syntax
Synecdoche-use of part for the whole-ex. doctor is the 'Hippocratic eye"; in a Shakespeare poem, the
cuckoo's song is unpleasing to the "unmarried ear"; In King Lear: "If on the tenth day following/Thy
banished trunk be found in our dominions/The moment is thy death."
Metonymy-use of something closely related for the thing actually meant-- ex. In Frost's poem "Out,
Out" an injured boy holds up his cut hand "as if to keep/The life from spilling" and 'The pen is mightier
than the sword." From King Lear, "The vines of France and milk of Burgundy/Strive to be interessed."
Symbol-means more than what it is-an object, person, situation, or action that in addition to its literal
meaning suggests other meanings as well
Personification- giving the attributes of a human being to an animal, an object, or a concept
Overstatement-or hyperbole, is simply exaggeration, but exaggeration in the service of truth. ex. "You
could have knocked me over with a feather!" May be used humorously, gravely, fancifully or in a
Understatement-saying less than one means-ex. If you sit down to a huge meal and say, "This looks
like a nice snack," you are stating what is literally true but with a good deal less force than the
Paradox- an apparent contradiction that is nevertheless somehow true- ex. Alexander Pope writes of
a critic who would "damn with faint praise." In King Lear, Burgundy says, "Fairest Cordelia, that art
most rich being poor" because even though Cordelia's father has disinherited her, Burgundy (the King
of France) prizes her and wants to marry her.
Irony-three types-verbal irony saying the opposite of what you mean, dramatic irony, where the
audience knows something the character doesn't know; and irony of situation, where the opposite of
what you expect happens.
Apostrophe-addressing someone absent or dead or something nonhuman * as if that person or thing
were present and alive and could reply to what is being said. Closely related to personification.
Allusion-a reference, explicit or implicit, to something in previous literature or history
With thanks to Literature Structure, Sound, and Sense, ed. Laurence Perrine and Thomas R, Arp.
Contributed by Becky Talk
Types of Language Essays
• Persuasive (agree or disagree): the student can expect either a short sentence or two that have
built-in controversy or a longer reading passage for which they are asked to evaluate the validity
of the author’s ideas. Persuasive writing is required for this category.
• Author’s attitude, tone, or point of view: this question type is based on reading a passage in
which the student must read between the lines, read inferentially, to understand the author’s
attitude toward the subject. Literary analysis is the focus of this essay.
• Analyze effect: this type of question requires an analytical essay based on a reading passage.
Here the student must understand how word choice, diction, syntax, and rhetoric work to produce
an effect in a passage. Students should comprehend the effect before they begin writing.
• Author’s purpose: these questions ask students to discuss why an author writes what he/she
• General statement about society or human nature: this topic is frequently placed as the final
essay question. These topics are designed to let the student use his/her own experience and
observations as evidence while reflecting on mankind in general.
• Comparison/contrast: although not commonly used, this type of question does appear
occasionally. These questions are frequently based on two reading passages- perhaps two
authors on the same subject, two descriptions of a location or event, or two drafts of the same
work from one author. Students must read and analyze carefully beyond the obvious similarities
and differences between the passages.
Language Question Stems
Rhetoric (how language works)
• The shift in point of view (time, tone, attitude) has the effect of…
• The syntax of lines… to … serves to…
• Which of the following choices best describes what … symbolizes?
• The … sentence is unified by metaphorical references to…
• As lines … and … are constructed, … is parallel to which of the following?
• The antecedent for … is…
• The third sentence remains coherent because of the use of …
• The phrase … has the effect of…
• The style of the passage can best be described as…
• The sentence … is chiefly remarkable for its
Meaning and Purpose
• Which of the following best identifies the meaning of …
• Which of the following best describes the author’s purpose in the last sentence?
• The main purpose of … is to make clear…
• The author emphasizes … in order to…
• What is the function of …?
• By …, the author most probably means…
• In context, which of the following meanings are contained in …?
• The theme of the second paragraph is…
• The speaker’s attitude is best described as one of…
• It can be inferred from the description of … that which of the following qualities are valued by the
• In context, the sentence … is best interpreted as which of the following?
• The atmosphere is one of…
• Which of the following would the author be LEAST likely to encourage?
• Which of the following is true about the various assertions made in the passage?
• All of the following ideas may be found in the passage EXCEPT…
Organization and Structure
• The quotation… signals a shift from …
• The speaker’s mention of … is appropriate to the development of his/her argument by…
• The type of argument employed by the author is most similar to which of the following?
• The relationship between … and … is explained primarily by the use of which of the following?
• The author’s discussion depends on which of the following structures?
• Which of the following best describes the function of the third paragraph in relation to the
• The author’s use of description is appropriate because…
• Which of the following best describes the author’s method?
Questions for Analysis of Prose Passages
1. What is the author’s attitude toward the scene or event that he/she is describing? How do you
know? What reason can be seen for the narrator’s response or attitude?
2. Is there any bitterness, sarcasm, or irony? How do you know? What seems to be responsible for
3. If setting is emphasized, what contributes to the mood of the setting?
4. If there are characters described in the selection, what is their relationship to each other?
5. Is there a significant relationship between the setting and the characters? If so, what is it and
how is it revealed?
6. Examine the diction. Are there any word choices made that particularly enhance the mood or
reveal the narrator’s attitude?
7. Examine the verbs used in the passage. Are they static (passive) or are they dynamic (active)?
Is this passage in present, past, or future tense? Is that important? Why?
8. Examine the syntax. Does it contribute to the total effect? How? Are there any obvious
repetitions of syntax? Are there obvious contrasts?
9. Examine the use of descriptive words or phrases. Are they elaborate, complex, or simple?
10. Are there figures of speech used? Similes? Metaphors? Personification? Allusions? Others?
What is their significance? What is their relationship to the total passage?
11. Are there any sensory impressions evoked? If so, how?
12. Is there any element of contrast or comparison used? Is it significant? How?
13. Is repetition of words, phrases, images, or sentence structure used? What is the purpose and its
14. How is the passage organized? Are there repeated structural elements? How are the
paragraphs related to each other? To the work as a whole?
15. What is the theme of the passage? How do any of the other elements in the passage
complement the theme or help reveal it?
16. How would you characterize the writer’s style? How does the style complement the content of
Remember that no element should be considered in isolation. The importance of any element is how
it works with others to enhance the writer’s purpose.
When writing about a prose passage, be very specific with reference to the passage to support your
Rhetoric: The skill of using spoken or written communication effectively; the art of guiding the reader
or listener to agreement with the writer or speaker.
analogy: making clear a concept or idea by showing its similarity to a more familiar concept
analysis of cause: identifying the forces responsible for an effect alternatives: considering of
appeal: an address to the audience usually through the pronoun you" or "we" used to the link
speaker to listeners. There are three types of appeal:
assertion: to suggest for consideration as true or possible
antithesis: a statement of purpose opposed to an earlier assertion or thesis
anticipate an objection: to anticipate an objection, addressing it before anyone else can raise the
ad hominem: to attack another's argument as weak because of a human failing that is not logically
part of the argument
concession: an acknowledgement of objections to a proposal
correction of Erroneous Views : pointing out where another's observations need Notification or
corrective measures: proposing measures to eliminate undesirable conditions
consequences of an event: listing or indicating what resulted from a particular event or condition
description: the enumeration of characteristics of objects that belong to the same class
direct address: to speak to directly, remove any separation between speaker and audience
definition: to define a concept like "excessive violence" to help resolve a question by narrowing or
deduction: arguing from a general point to particular application
extended metaphor: a protracted metaphor or conceit which makes a series of parallel comparisons
inquiry as introduction : setting an essay in motion by raising a question and suggesting that the
answer may be interesting or important illustration of ways to correct a condition
rebuttal: final opposition to an assertion; disprove or refute
reduce to the absurd: to show the foolishness of an argument
rhetorical question: to ask a question of an audience to engage them without having a response
from the audience.
specious reasoning: having only apparent logic; not truly logical but presented as such
thesis: a statement of purpose or intent
under/over statement: to say considerably more or less than a condition warrants usually for ironic
Methods of organizing material for stronger writing
• State a thesis then refute it
• Suggest possibilities and dismiss all but one
• Pose a problem and solve it
• Form a hypothesis and test its implications
• Express an opinion and then contradict it with facts
• Narrate several unrelated episodes and link them in a surprising way
• Chronological narration shifting to reflection
• Appreciative reporting
• Dispassionate recollection
• Comparison/ Contrast
What to Look for in Analyzing Rhetoric
P. A. T. T. R.
1. author's purpose: persuasion, information, description, narration
2. the audience the writer appeals to
3. tone (diction, images, details, language, sentence structure) that suggest the author's attitude
4. the theme: consider theme as an abstract idea (see theme idea sheet) coupled with a comment
or observation which addresses human motivation, human condition, and human ambition but be
sure that the observation
a. avoids too terse an observation: express the complexity of the human experience
b. avoids moralizing, delete words like should and ought and any words that empress
judgement; instead, simply observe, weigh, and consider
c. avoids specific reference to plot and characters, speak now of us, we and the human
experience as perceived by the author
d. avoids absolute words like anyone, all, none, everything, everyone; use instead, we,
5. Rhetorical devices: any device which persuades the audience to agree with the writer: assertion,
example, rebuttal are types of devices: that persuade (see rhetorical devices: list sheet)
6. Rhetorical Stances: when several devices are organized in an effective way the writer has
created a "stance" or a strategy. Some effective stances are:
a. Convincing arguments for and against an idea
b. Examine implications while leaving conclusions unresolved
c. Condemn the illogic of those who hold one or several opinions different from the writer's
d. Progressively narrow focus from a universal accepted concept to a specific personal
e. Divert attention from major issues with digressions
You can lend maturity and elegance to your writing by varying several structures.
1. Vary the length of your sentences.
The average sentence is from 10-20 words.
Vary this length by writing longer sentences punctuated with short sentences.
2. Vary the structure of your sentences.
Write sentences with grammatical elements such as dependent clauses at the beginning,
the middle, and the end; appositives-set off long appositives with dashes-inversion,
(Honesty we did not expect from the seasoned politician), parallel structure, participles.
3. Vary the beginnings of sentences.
Begin with dependent clause--While I was typing this handout, I was dreaming of the
sugar-white beaches of Florida.
Begin with prepositional phrase-In our desire for wealth and power, we have joined the
teaching profession. (irony!)
Begin with participial phrase-Vowing she would never assign so many essays again, she
worked through the night by candlelight.
Begin with gerund phrase--After deciding to get in shape, she was given the freshman
physical education class.
Begin with absolute phrase--His confidence broken, he doubted he would ever be able to
make a soufflé again.
Begin with an appositive noun--A difficult and irascible principal, he knew his teachers
cowered before him.
Begin with an appositive adjective--Calm, rational, and stolid, she explained the rules for
the fourth time.
4. Vary the endings of sentences.
Use the same elements as in the beginning of sentences but at the end.
5. Use these same grammatical elements as interrupters.
dependent clause-This novel, which is usually taught to seniors, is quite appropriate for
appositive noun-Several Southern novelists--William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, and Flannery
O'Connor--have changed the landscape of fiction.
appositive adjective-My son, weakened from watching television and playing Nintendo,
protested that he just couldn't take out the trash.
participle- Mrs. Brown, convinced of her greatness as a writer, submitted manuscripts to
several publishing houses.
absolute phrase-The senator, his courage failing, voted according to the polls.
prepositional phrase-The legislature, with its customary promptness, voted before the
6. Use parallelism in the sentences.
two-part parallelism-"Shakespeare's noblest characters express sentiments of patriotic or
personal honor which to young modem ears sound flamboyant or unconvincing." Madeleine
Doran, Something About Swans
triad or tricolon-"Every man that has ever undertaken to instruct others can tell what slow
advances he has been able to make, and how much patience it requires to recall vagrant
inattention, to stimulate sluggish indifference, and to rectify absurd misapprehension."
Samuel Johnson, Life of Milton
antithesis-"We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and
actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people." Martin Luther
extended series-"[The mass-man] appears to be a spoiled child, fundamentally ungrateful to
the scientists, political philosophers, social reformers, and religious idealists who have given
him his unprecedented opportunities. He is therefore the natural prey of advertisers,
politicians, millionaire publishers, and would-be dictators." Herbert J. Muller
7. Use questions and commands.
rhetorical questions are particularly forceful to call attention to the obvious answer, which is
the answer that the writer wishes the reader to give
imperative sentences or commands can remind readers of a point established earlier, give
advice, or exhort with special urgency or intensity, such as in Thoreau's words from Walden:
"However mean your life, meet it and Eve it; do not shun- it and call it hard names. It is not so
bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The faultfinder will find faults even in
paradise. Love your life, poor as it is."
8. Use unusual sentence patterns.
inversion (see above)
using a "that" clause as the subject of the sentence-That he failed to understand the point
was obvious to his teacher.
anadiplosis- repeating the last word of one sentence (or clause) as the first word of the
next-He endlessly discussed his hobbies. Hobbies, however, seems an odd word to describe
his interest in catching alligators by the tail.
anaphora- repeating the same word or phrase at the beginnings of clauses or sentences-The
wind tore the trees. The wind blew the sand in my face. The wind forced itself into our fives.
epistrophe- the opposite of anaphora-Writing this many fragments is unacceptable. writing
without an authentic voice is unacceptable. Copying from the encyclopedia is unacceptable.
In short, this essay is completely unacceptable.
apanalepis- using the same word or phrase at the beginning of a sentence and at the end-An
unreliable watch can make you unreliable. (from an advertisement)
antimetabole- repeats words in reverse order-"Mankind must put an end to war-or war will put
an end to mankind." John F. Kennedy
chiasmus- reverses grammatical elements-She was kind to her students but to her own
ellipsis- omitting one or more words-"Youth is a blunder, manhood a struggle; old age a
regret." Benjamin Disraeli
asyndeton- omitting the conjunction that comes just before the Last item in a parallel
series-Lincoln in "The Gettysburg Address" said that "we here highly resolve ... that
government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
polysyndeton- adds conjunctions where they are not normally present in a series(gives the
effect of a mass rather than a list and slows down the rhythm of the sentence)"The endless
panoply of tears and scowls and guilt and contempt and boredom and self-loathing that
blighted those years will never cease to depress me."
epanorthosis or "correction" conveys a sense of immediacy- “…the prep school boys came
from families who founded the country-, hence they deserved-no, they earned- rights to be in
their clubs." Thomas Cottle, "The Politics of Retrieval"
Types of Sentences
PERIODIC SENTENCE- a sentence grammatically complete only at the end. A loose sentence is
grammatically complete before the period. The following are (1-2) periodic and (3-4) loose sentences
1. When conquering love did first my heart assail, / Unto mine aid I summoned every sense.
2. Although she is taller and younger than I am, my best friend and I think and act alike.
3. Fair is my love, and cruel as she's fair.
4. I love my dog even though he has smelly breath, shaggy hair, and odd habits.
Periodic sentences complete the important idea at the end, while loose sentences put the important
idea first. Neither is a better sentence. Good writers use both.
CUMULATIVE SENTENCES—“The St. Martin’s Guide to Writing” by Axelrod and Cooper gives this
“...a special kind of sentence - the cumulative sentence - is used by nearly all contemporary
professional writers, especially writers of autobiography. In a cumulative sentence, phrases follow a
main clause but do not modify a specific word in the clause. Examples:
... so I trudged off to school, *my belly troubled.*
I stood rooted there in the street, *tears sliding down my cheek. *
...and the car honked its horn as it passed, *the driver shouting at me.*
Taken from “The St. Martin's Handbook” Second edition:
"Cumulative sentences begin with the subject and predicate containing the main thought and then
build on this foundation with a series of phrases or clauses.”
The old man sat, waiting, watching, never tiring of his self-appointed task of keeping track of all who
passed, his hat pulled tightly over his forehead, hiding eyes that missed nothing.
I could still feel the way I'd moved with the horse, the ripple of muscle through both the striving
bodies, uniting as one. I could still feel the irons round my feet, the calves of my legs gripping, the
balance, the nearness to my head of the stretching brown neck, the mane blowing in my mouth, my
hands on the reins. --Dick Francis
(This second example includes two cumulative sentences.)
Periodic sentences save the subject and verb of the independent clause until the end, building toward
them and making the reader wait for the full meaning or significance to emerge.
Pulling my tie off and flinging it haphazardly onto the sofa, stretching out to read the paper, listening
to the crickets chirp, I felt the tensions of the workday disappear.
Though we long for the easy answer, the simple solution, the quick rationalization, only the harsh
truth can set us free."
SIMPLE SENTENCE Vampires suck blood.
COMPOUND SENTENCE Life is a bed or roses, but sometimes we prick our fingers on the thorns.
COMPLEX SENTENCE If two teams are physically equal, the winner will probably be decided by
COMPOUND-COMPLEX SENTENCE When I painted my room, the smell made me dizzy, and I had
to lie down on the couch.
INVERTED SENTENCE High soared the eagle as it rose into the sunrise. A jolly old soul was he.
INTERRUPTED SENTENCE He who goes to sleep without homework, goes to sleep a happier
"Will you allow me, or do I ask too much, to introduce my sister to your acquaintance during your stay
at Lambton?” (Jane Austen)
"He who, she had been persuaded, would avoid her as his greatest enemy, seemed, on this
accidental meeting, most eager to preserve the acquaintance." (Jane Austen)
"Standing alone on the porch, Beloved is smiling." (Toni Morrison)
Sergeant Shanny, the best cop on the force, was patrolling the East Side slums, the worst
neighborhood in town, when he was last seen.
It was a dreary November night, the pea-soup fog overwhelming the street lamps and cars crawling
through the blackness, when I stepped off the curb and heard scuffling of dress shoes on the gritty,
wet, cobblestone street, like a scene from a Bogart movie.
"He turned south along the old war trail and he rode out to the crest of a low rise and dismounted and
dropped the reins and walked out and stood like a man come to the end of something." (Cormac
"It came boring out of the east, like some ribald satellite of the coming sun howling and bellowing in
the distance and the long light of the headlamp running through the tangled mesquite brakes and
creating out of the night the endless fenceline down the dead straight right of way and sucking it back
again wire and post mile on mile into the darkness after where the bollersmoke disbanded slowly
along the faint new horizon and the sound came lagging and he stood still holding his hat in his hands
in the passing ground shudder watching it till it was gone." (Cormac McCarthy)
"He rode where he would always choose to ride, out where the western fork of the old Comanche
road coming out of the Kiowa country to the north passed through the westernmost section of the
ranch and you could see the faint trace of it bearing south over the low prairie that lay between the
north and middle forks of the Concho River." (Cormac McCarthy)
With his arm laying gently across my back, barely touching it, and the moonlight shining through the
darkness of the trees, my date and I walked along the path. "If Elizabeth, when Mr. Darcy gave her
the letter, did not expect it to contain a renewal of his offers, she had formed no expectation at all of
its contents." (Jane Austen)
"She began now to comprehend that he was exactly the man, who, in disposition and talents, would
most suit her." (Jane Austen)
"No man of common humanity, no man who had any value for his character, could be capable of it."
"He wasn't being nervous; he was being prevented." (Toni Morrison)
"I have been to the mountaintop and I have seen the promised land." (MLK)
I came; I saw; I conquered.
He picked up the can, emptied it, threw it back down. He started, stared, shook his head, then bolted
out of the room.
The cause of the attitude was not ignorance, not apathy, not rejection, but hopelessness.
"To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heavens. A time to be
born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to reap; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to
tear down, and a time to build; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn. and a time to
If attitudes can change people, people can change attitudes. Ask not what your country can do for
you, but what you can do for your country. We should eat to live, not live to eat.
"Now, women forget all those things they don't want to remember, and remember everything they
don’t want to forget." (Zora Neale Hurston)
The smallest lie can become the biggest wrong. It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.
What's love got to do with it" Why can't we all just get along? Who do you think you are?
Terms for AP English Language Exam Comment [ah1]:
Terms for the Multiple- Choice and Essay Sections
Some of the following terms may be used in the multiple-choice questions and/or answers or in essay
section instructions. Others you might choose to incorporate into your essay writing - for example, to
help explain the effect of a literary device mentioned in the essay prompt.
The device of using character and/or story elements symbolically to represent an abstraction in
addition to the literal meaning. In some allegories, for example, an author may intend the characters
to personify an abstraction like hope or freedom. The allegorical meaning usually deals with moral
truth or a generalization about human existence.
The repetition of sounds, especially initial consonant sounds in two or more neighboring words (as in
“she sells seashells”). Although the term is not used in the multiple-choice section, you can look for
alliteration in any essay passage. The repetition can reinforce meaning, unify ideas, and/or supply a
A direct or indirect reference to something which is presumably commonly known, such as an event,
book, myth, place, or work of art. Allusions can be historical, (like referring to Hitler), literary (like
referring to Kurtz in Heart of Darkness), religious (like referring to Noah and the flood), or mythical
(like referring to Atlas). There are, of course, many more possibilities, and a work may
simultaneously use multiple layers of allusion.
The multiple meanings, either intentional or unintentional, of a word, phrase, sentence, or passage.
A similarity or comparison between two different things or the relationship between them. An analogy
can explain something unfamiliar by associating it with or pointing out its similarity to something more
familiar. Analogies can also make writing more vivid, imaginative, or intellectually engaging.
The word, phrase, or clause referred to by a pronoun. The AP language exam occasionally asks for
the antecedent of a given pronoun in a long, complex sentence or in a group of sentences.
A terse statement of known authorship which expresses a general truth or a moral principle. (If the
authorship is unknown, the statement is generally considered to be a folk proverb.) An aphorism can
be a memorable summation of the author’s point.
A figure of speech that directly addresses an absent or imaginary person or a personified abstraction,
such as liberty or love. The effect may add familiarity or emotional intensity. William Wordsworth
addresses John Milton as he writes, “Milton, thou shouldst be living at this hour: England hath need of
The emotional mood created by the entirety of a literary work, established partly by the setting and
partly by the author’s choice of objects that are described. Even such elements such as a description
of the weather can contribute to the atmosphere. Frequently, atmosphere foreshadows events. See
A grammatical unit that contains both a subject and a verb. An independent, or main, clause
expresses a complete thought and can stand alone as a sentence. A dependent, or subordinate,
clause cannot stand alone as a sentence and must be accompanied by an independent clause.
Examine this sample sentence: Because I practiced hard, my AP scores were high.” In this
sentence, the independent clause is “my AP scores were high,” and the dependent clause is
“Because I practiced hard.”
• colloquial / colloquialism
The use of slang or informalities in speech or writing. Not generally acceptable for formal writing,
colloquialisms give a work a conversational, familiar tone. Colloquial expressions in writing include
local or regional dialects.
A fanciful expression, usually in the form of an extended metaphor or surprising analogy between
seemingly dissimilar objects. A conceit displays intellectual cleverness due to the unusual
comparison being made.
The non-literal, associative meaning of a word; the implied, suggested meaning. Connotations may
involve ideas, emotions, or attitudes. See denotation.
The strict, literal, dictionary definition of a word, devoid of any emotion, attitude, or color. See
Related to style, diction refers to the writer’s word choices, especially with regard to their correctness,
clearness, or effectiveness. For the AP exam, you should be able to describe an author’s diction (for
example, formal or informal, ornate or plain) and understand the ways in which diction can
complement the author’s purpose. Diction, combined with syntax, figurative language, literary
devices, etc., creates an author’s style. See syntax.
From the Greek, didactic literally means “teaching.” Didactic works have the primary aim of teaching
or instructing, especially the teaching of moral or ethical principles.
From the Greek for “good speech,” euphemisms are a more agreeable or less offensive substitute for
a generally unpleasant word or concept. The euphemism may be used to adhere to standards of
social or political correctness or to add humor or ironic understatement. Saying “earthly remains:
rather than “corpse” is an example of euphemism.
• extended metaphor
A metaphor developed at great length, occurring frequently in or throughout a work. See metaphor.
• figurative language
Writing or speech that is not intended to carry literal meaning and is usually meant to be imaginative
and vivid. See figure of speech.
• figure of speech
A device used to produce figurative language. Many compare dissimilar things. Figures of speech
include, for example, apostrophe, hyperbole, irony, metaphor, metonymy, oxymoron, paradox,
personification, simile, synecdoche, and understatement.
• generic conventions
This term describes traditions for each genre. These conventions help to define each genre; for
example, they differentiate between an essay and journalistic writing or an autobiography and political
writing. On the AP language exam, try to distinguish the unique features of a writer’s work from those
dictated by convention.
The major category into which a literary work fits. The basic divisions of literature are prose, poetry,
and drama. However, genre is a flexible term; within these broad boundaries exist many subdivisions
that are often called genres themselves. For example, prose can be divided into fiction (novels and
short stories) or nonfiction (essays, biographies, autobiographies, etc.). Poetry can be divided into
lyric, dramatic, narrative, epic, etc. Drama can be divided into tragedy, comedy, melodrama, farce,
etc. On the AP language exam, expect the majority of the passages to be from the following genres:
autobiography, biography, diaries, criticism, essays, and journalistic, political, scientific, and nature
This term literally means “sermon,” but more informally, it can include any serious talk, speech, or
lecture involving moral or spiritual advice.
A figure of speech using deliberate exaggeration or overstatement. Hyperboles often have a comic
effect; however, a serious effect is also possible. Often, hyperbole produces irony at the same time.
The sensory details or figurative language used to describe, arouse emotion or represent
abstractions. On a physical level, imagery uses terms related to the five senses: we refer to visual,
auditory, tactile, gustatory, or olfactory imagery. On a broader and deeper level, however, one image
can represent more than one thing. For example, a rose may present visual imagery while also
representing the color in a woman’s cheeks. An author, therefore, may use complex imagery while
simultaneously employing other figures of speech, especially metaphor and simile. In addition, this
term can apply to the total of all the images in a work on the AP exam; pay attention to how an author
creates imagery and also to the effect of that imagery.
• inference / infer
To draw a reasonable conclusion from the information presented when a multiple-choice question
asks for an inference to be drawn from a passage, the most direct, most reasonable inference is the
safest answer choice. If an inference is implausible, it is unlikely to be the correct answer. Note that
if the answer choice is directly stated, it is not inferred and is wrong.
An emotionally violent, verbal denunciation or attack using strong, abusive language.
• irony / ironic
It is contrast between what is stated explicitly and what is really meant. It is the difference between
what appears to be and what actually is true. In general, there are three major types of irony used in
language: (1) In verbal irony, the words literally state the opposite of the writer’s (or speaker’s) true
meaning. (2) In situational irony, events turn out the opposite of what was expected. What the
characters and readers think ought to happen is not what does happen. (3) In dramatic irony, facts or
events are unknown to a character in a play or piece of fiction but known to the reader, audience, or
other characters in the work. irony is used for many reasons, but frequently, it’s used to create
poignancy or humor.
• loose sentence
A loose sentence is a type of sentence in which the main idea (independent clause) comes first,
followed by dependent grammatical units such as phrase and clauses. If a period were placed at the
end of the independent clause, the clause would be a complete sentence. A work containing many
loose sentences often seems informal, relaxed, and conversational. See periodic sentence.
A figure of speech using implied comparison of seemingly unlike things or the substitution of one for
the other, suggesting some similarity. Metaphorical language makes writing more vivid, imaginative,
thought provoking, and meaningful. See simile.
A term from the Greek meaning “changed label” or “substitute name,” metonymy is a figure of speech
in which the name of one object is substituted for that of another closely associated with it. A news
release that claims “the White House declared” rather than “the President declared” is using
metonymy. This term is unlikely to be used in the multiple-choice section, but you might see
examples of metonymy in an essay passage.
This term has two distinct technical meanings in English writing. The first meaning is grammatical
and deals with verbal unity and a speaker’s attitude. The indicative mood is used only for factual
sentences. For example, “Joe eats too quickly.” The subjunctive mood is used for doubtful or
conditional attitude. For example, “If I were you, I’d get another job.” The imperative mood is used
for commands. For example, “Shut the door!” The second meaning of mood is literary meaning the
prevailing atmosphere or emotional aura of a work. Setting, tone, and events can affect the mood. In
this usage, mood is similar to tone and atmosphere.
The telling of a story or an account of an event or series of events is called narrative writing.
Onomatopoeia is a figure of speech in which natural sounds are imitated in the sounds of words.
Simple examples include such words as buzz, hiss, hum, crack, whinny, and murmur. This term is
not used in the multiple-choice section. If you identify examples of onomatopoeia in an essay
passage, note the effect.
From the Greek for “pointedly foolish,” an oxymoron is a figure of speech wherein the author groups
apparently contradictory terms to suggest a paradox. Simple examples include “jumbo shrimp” and
“cruel kindness.” This term does not appear in the multiple-choice questions, but there is a slight
chance you will see it used by an author in an essay passage or find it useful in your own essay
A statement that appears to be self-contradictory or opposed to common sense but upon closer
inspection contains some degree of truth or validity. The first scene of Macbeth, for example, closes
with the witches’ cryptic remark “Fair is foul, and foul is fair...”
Also referred to as parallel construction or parallel structure, this term comes from Greek roots
meaning “beside one another.” It refers to the grammatical or rhetorical framing of words, phrases,
sentences, or paragraphs to give structural similarity. This can involve, but is not limited to, repetition
of a grammatical element such as a preposition or verbal phrase. A famous example of parallelism
begins Charles Dickens’ novel A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the words of
times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the
epoch of incredulity . . .” The effects of parallelism are numerous, but frequently they act as an
organizing force to attract the reader’s attention, add emphasis and organization, or simply provide a
A parody is a work that closely imitates the style or content of another with the specific aim of comic
effect and/or ridicule. As comedy, parody distorts or exaggerates distinctive features of the original.
As ridicule, it mimics the work by repeating and borrowing words, phrases, or characteristics in order
to illuminate weaknesses in the original. Well-written parody offers enlightenment about the original
but poorly written parody offers only ineffectual imitation. Usually an audience must grasp literary
allusion and understand the work being parodied in order to fully appreciate the nuances of the newer
work. Occasionally, however, parodies take on a life of their own and don’t require knowledge of the
This is an adjective that describes words, phrases, or general tone that is overly scholarly, academic,
• periodic sentence
This is a sentence that presents its central meaning in a main clause at the end. This independent
clause is preceded by a phrase or clause that cannot stand alone. For example: “Ecstatic with my
AP scores, I let out a loud shout of joy!” The effect of a periodic sentence is to add emphasis and
structural variety. See loose sentence.
A figure of speech in which the author presents or describes concepts, animals, or inanimate objects
by endowing them with human attributes or emotions. Personification is used to make these
abstractions, animals, or objects appear more vivid to the reader.
• point of view
In literature, point of view is the perspective from which a story is told. There are two general
divisions of point of view and many subdivisions within those. (1) The first person narrator tells the
story with the first person pronoun, “I,” and is a character in the story. This narrator can be the
protagonist (the hero or heroine), a participant (a character in a secondary role), or an observer (a
character who merely watches the action). (2) The third person character narrator relates the events
with the third person pronouns, “he,” “she,” and “it.” There are two main subdivisions to be aware of:
omniscient and limited omniscient. In the “third person omniscient” point of view, the narrator, with
godlike knowledge, presents the thoughts and actions of any or all characters. This all-knowing
narrator can reveal what each character feels and thinks at any given moment. The “third person
limited omniscient” point of view, as the name implies, presents the feelings and thoughts of only one
character, presenting only the actions of all remaining characters. This definition applies in questions
in the multiple choice section. However, on the essay portion of the exam, the term “point of view”
carries a different meaning. When you are asked to analyze an author’s point of view, the
appropriate point for you to address is the author’s attitude.
• predicate adjective
One type of subject complement -- an adjective, group of adjectives, or adjective clause that follows a
linking verb. It is in the predicate of the sentence, and modifies, or describes, the subject. For
example, in the sentence “My boyfriend is tall, dark, and handsome,” the group of predicate
adjectives (“tall, dark, and handsome”) describes “boyfriend.”
• predicate nominative
A second type of subject complement -- a noun, group of nouns, or noun clause that renames the
subject. It, like the predicate adjective, follows a linking verb and is located in the predicate of the
sentence. For example, in the sentence “Abe Lincoln was a man of integrity,” the predicate
nominative is “man of integrity,” as it renames Abe Lincoln. Occasionally, this term or the term
predicate adjective appears in a multiple-choice question.
One of the major divisions of genre, prose refers to fiction and nonfiction, including all its forms,
because they are written in ordinary language and most closely resemble everyday speech.
Technically, anything that is not poetry or drama is prose. Therefore, all passages in the AP
language exam are prose. Of course, prose writers often borrow poetic and dramatic elements.
The duplication, either exact or approximate, of any element of language, such as a sound, word,
phrase, clause, sentence, or grammatical pattern. When repetition is poorly done, it bores, but when
it is well done, it links and emphasizes ideas while allowing the reader the comfort of recognizing
From the Greek for “orator,” this term describes the principles governing the art of writing effectively,
eloquently, and persuasively.
• rhetorical modes
This flexible term describes the variety, the conventions, and the purposes of the major kinds of
writing. The four most common rhetorical modes and their purposes are as follows: (1) The purpose
of exposition (or expository writing) is to explain and analyze information by presenting an idea,
relevant evidence, and appropriate discussion. The AP language exam essay questions are
frequently set up as expository topics. (2) The purpose of argumentation is to prove the validity of an
idea, or point of view, by presenting sound reasoning, discussion, and argument that thoroughly
convince the reader. Persuasive writing is a type of argumentation having an additional aim of urging
some form of action. (3) The purpose of description is to re-create, invent, or visually present a
person, place, event, or action so that the reader can picture that which is being described.
Sometimes an author engages all five senses in description; good descriptive writing can be
sensuous and picturesque. Descriptive writing may be straightforward and objective or highly
emotional and subjective. (4) The purpose of narration is to tell a story or narrate an event or series
of events. This writing mode frequently uses the tools of descriptive writing. These four writing
modes are sometimes referred to as modes of discourse.
From the Greek meaning “to tear flesh,” sarcasm involves bitter, caustic language that is meant to
hurt or ridicule someone or something. it may use irony as a device, but not all ironic statements are
sarcastic, that is, intending to ridicule. When well done, sarcasm can be witty and insightful; when
poorly done, it’s simply cruel.
A satire is a work that targets human vices and follies or social institutions and conventions for reform
or ridicule. Regardless of whether or not the work aims to reform humans or their society, satire is
best seen as a style of writing rather than a purpose for writing. It can be recognized by the many
devices used effectively by the satirist such as irony, wit, parody, caricature, hyperbole,
understatement, and sarcasm. The effects of satire are varied, depending on the writer’s goal, but
good satire, often humorous, is thought provoking and insightful about the human condition.
Semantics is the branch of linguistics that studies the meanings of words, their historical and
psychological development, their connotations, and their relation to one another.
The consideration of style has two purposes. (1) An evaluation of the sum of the choices an author
makes in blending diction, syntax, figurative language, and other literary devices. Some authors’
styles are so idiosyncratic that we can quickly recognize works by the same author (or a writer
emulating that style). Compare, for example, Jonathan Swift to George Orwell or William Faulkner to
Ernest Hemingway. We can analyze and describe an author’s personal style and make judgments on
how appropriate it is to the author’s purpose. Styles can be called flowery, explicit, succinct,
rambling, bombastic, commonplace, incisive, or laconic, to name only a few examples. (2)
Classification of authors to a group and comparison of an author to similar authors. By means of
such classification and comparison, one can see how a author’s style reflects and helps to define a
historical period, such as the Renaissance or the Victorian period, or a literary movement, such as the
romantic, transcendental, or realist movement.
• subject complement
The word (with any accompanying phrases) or clause that follows a linking verb and complements, or
completes, the subject of the sentence by either (1) renaming it or (2) describing it. The former is
technically called a predicate nominative; the latter is called a predicate adjective.
• subordinate clause
Like all clauses, this word group contains both a subject and a verb (plus any accompanying phrases
or modifiers), but unlike the independent clause, the subordinate clause cannot stand alone; it does
not express a complete thought. Also called a dependent clause, the subordinate clause depends on
a main clause, sometimes called an independent clause, to complete its meaning. Easily recognized
key words and phrases usually begin these clauses -- for example: although, because, unless, if,
even though, since, as soon as, while, who, when, where, how, and that.
From the Greek for “reckoning together,” a syllogism (or syllogistic reasoning) is a deductive system
of formal logic that presents two premises (the first one called “major” and the second “minor”) that
inevitably lead to a sound conclusion. A frequently cited example proceeds as follows:
major premise: All men are mortal. minor premise: Socrates is a man. Conclusion: Therefore,
Socrates is mortal.
A syllogism’s conclusion is valid only if each of the two premises is valid. Syllogisms may also
present the specific idea first (“Socrates”) and the general second (“All men”).
• symbol / symbolism
Generally, a symbol is anything that represents or stands for something else. Usually, a symbol is
something concrete -- such as an object, action, character or scene -- that represents something
more abstract. However, symbols and symbolism can be much more complex. One system
classifies symbols in three categories: (1) Natural symbols use objects and occurrences from nature
to represent ideas commonly associated with them (dawn symbolizing hope or a new beginning, a
rose symbolizing love, a tree symbolizing knowledge). (2) Conventional symbols are those that have
been invested with meaning by a group (religious symbols, such as a cross or Star of David; national
symbols, such as a flag or an eagle; or group symbols, such as a skull and crossbones for pirates or
the scales of justice for lawyers). (3) Literary symbols are sometimes also conventional in the sense
that they are found in a variety of works and are generally recognized. However, a work’s symbols
may be more complicated as is the whale in Moby Dick and the jungle in Heart of Darkness. On the
AP exam, try to determine what abstraction or object is a symbol for and to what it is successful in
representing that abstraction.
The way an author chooses to join words into phrases, clauses, and sentences is called syntax.
Syntax is similar to diction, but you can differentiate them by thinking of syntax as the groups of
words, while diction refers to the individual words. In the multiple-choice section of the AP language
exam, expect to be asked some questions about how an author manipulates syntax. In the essay
section, you will need to analyze how syntax produces effects.
The theme is the central idea or message of a work, the insight it offers into life. Usually, theme is
unstated in fictional works, but in nonfiction, the theme may be directly stated, especially in expository
or argumentative writing.
In expository writing, the thesis statement is the sentence or group of sentences that directly
expresses the author’s opinion, purpose, meaning, or proposition. Expository writing is usually
judged by analyzing how accurately, effectively, and thoroughly a writer has proven the thesis.
Similar to mood, tone describes the author’s attitude toward his or her material, the audience, or both.
Tone is easier o determine in spoken language than in written language. Considering how a work
would sound if it were read aloud can help in identifying an author’s tone. Some words describing
tone are playful, serious, businesslike, sarcastic, humorous, formal, ornate, and somber.
Transition is defined as a word or phrase that links different ideas. Used especially, although not
exclusively, in expository and argumentative writing, transitions effectively signal a shift from one idea
to another. A few commonly used transitional words or phrases are furthermore, consequently,
nevertheless, for example, in addition, likewise, similarly, and on the contrary.
The ironic minimizing of fact, understatement presents something as less significant than it is. The
effect can frequently be humorous and emphatic. Understatement is the opposite of hyperbole.
In modern usage, intellectually amusing language that surprises and delights is called wit. A witty
statement is humorous, while suggesting the speaker’s verbal power in creating ingenious and
perceptive remarks. Wit usually uses terse language that makes a pointed statement. Historically,
wit originally meant basic understanding. Its meaning evolved to include speed of understanding, and
finally (in the early seventeenth century), it grew to mean quick perception including creative fancy.
Terms for the Essay Section
The following words and phrases have appeared in recent AP language exam essay topics. While
not a comprehensive list of every word or phrase you might find unfamiliar, it will help you to
understand what you are being asked to do for a topic.
A writer’s intellectual position or emotion regarding the subject of the writing. In the essay section,
expect to be asked what the writer’s attitude is an how his or her language conveys that attitude.
• concrete detail
Strictly defined, “concrete” refers to nouns that name physical objects -- a bridge, a book, a coat.
Concrete nouns are the opposite of abstract nouns (which refer to concepts such as freedom and
love). However, as used in the essay portion of the AP test, this term has a slightly different
connotation. The directions may read something like this: “Provide concrete detail that will convince
the reader.” This means that your essay should include details and evidence that relate to the topic.
At times, you will find the detail in the passage; at times, you will be asked to provide detail from your
own life (reading, observation, experience, etc.).
• descriptive detail
When an essay question uses this phrase, look for the writer’s sensory description. Descriptive detail
appealing to the visual sense is usually the most predominant, but don’t overlook other sensory detail.
As usual, after you identify a passage’s descriptive detail, analyze its effect.
The figures of speech, syntax, diction, and other stylistic elements that collectively produce a
particular artistic effect.
When you are asked to “analyze the language,” concentrate on how the elements of language
combine to form a whole -- how diction, syntax, figurative language, and sentence structure create a
• narrative devices
This term describes the tools of the storyteller (also used in nonfiction), such as ordering events so
that they build to a climactic moment or withholding information until a crucial or appropriate moment
when revealing it creates a desired effect. On the essay exam, this term may also apply to
biographical and autobiographical writing.
• narrative technique
The style of telling the “story,” even if the passage is nonfiction. Concentrate on the order of events
and on their detail in evaluating a writer’s technique.
• persuasive devices
When asked to analyze an author’s persuasive devices, look for the words in the passage that have
strong connotations, words that intensify the emotional effect. In addition, analyze how these words
complement the writer’s argument as it builds logically. Speeches are often used in this context,
since they are generally designed to persuade.
• persuasive essay
When asked to write a persuasive essay, you should present a coherent argument in which the
evidence builds to a logical and relevant conclusion. Strong persuasive essays often appeal to the
audience’s emotions or ethical standards.
• resources of language
Resources of language, rhetorical devices, rhetorical strategies, rhetorical strategies, etc. all mean
the same thing- the tools of language the author uses to convey his/her meaning and purpose.
These can include any device or term of language study.
Logic and Fallacies
INDUCTION: a process in logic that involves moving from a number of particular cases to a general
conclusion that all instances of the type investigated will conform to that type.
THE INDUCTIVE LEAP: because we cannot test every instance (past, present, future), we take the
leap from "most" or "some" to "all." We reach a generalization.
TESTS FOR GENERALIZATION:
1. A fair number of instances must be investigated.
2. The instances investigated must be typical.
3. If negative instances occur, they must be explained. Show that they are not typical and,
therefore, need not be considered as significant.
ANALOGY: inductive reasoning in which we assume that if two instances are alike in a number of
important points, they will be alike in the point in question.
DEDUCTION: a process in logic that involves reasoning from stated premises to the formally valid
conclusion; reasoning from the general to the particular.
SYLLOGISM: the formula of deductive reasoning. major premise: statement universally accepted as
true minor premise: major premise applied to a particular object or situation conclusion:
establishes the relationship of the object to the major proposition
DISTRIBUTED MIDDLE TERM: in order that the syllogism be valid, the formula must contain what is
known as a distributed middle term, which means that the word that is the subject of the sentence
in the major premise must be part of the predicate in the minor premise. Although this type of
syllogism is not the only one, it is the type most commonly used.
BEGGING THE QUESTION: assuming something to be true that really needs proof. EX: The
unsanitary condition of the slaughter pens is detrimental to health. EX: This handwriting is hard
to read, because it is nearly illegible.
IGNORING THE QUESTION: a question is set up so that argument is shifted to new ground, or an
appeal is made to some emotional attitude having nothing to do with the logic of the case.
EX: You should talk about the apartheid philosophy in Africa. Do you know what Americans did
to the Indians?
EQUIVOCATION: using the same term with different meanings. (The word law, for instance, cannot
be used to mean both natural law and law as established by an authority, in the same
NON SEQUITUR: (Latin, literally: "it does not follow") The conclusion does not follow from the
preceding arguments. EX: Tom does not drink or smoke, so he ought to make a good husband.
FAULTY DILEMMA: the major premise presents a choice that does not exhaust the possibilities.
EX: Better dead than Red.
POST HOC ERGO PROPTER HOC: ("After this, because of this") It attempts to prove that because a
second event followed a first event, the second event was the result of the first. EX: Every time
the Democrats get into office, we have a war. Every time the Republicans get into office, we
have a recession.
ARGUMENTUM AD HOMINEM: ("the argument to the man") Turning from the issue to the character
involved. EX: Smith should not be elected. He just got a divorce.
EX: Smith should not be elected. His father is an alcoholic.
EX: Vote for Smith. He's been married for twenty years, has four children, served in World War
II, and attends church every Sunday.
AD MISERICORDIAM: an appeal for sympathy.
EX: Q: Did you steal the money?
A: I'm out of work, my family hasn't eaten in two days, my brother-in-law has just been
arrested for stealing a car...
HYPOTHESIS CONTRARY TO FACT: Beginning with a premise that is not necessarily true and then
drawing conclusions from it.
EX: If I had not had Mr. Smith for a teacher, I would never have understood algebra.
COMPOSITION: arguing that a group must have the same qualities or characteristics as its
EX: Each football player of the all-star team is the best player at his position in the entire
country. Therefore, the all-star team is the best team in the entire country.
DIVISION: arguing that an individual must have the characteristics of the group.
EX: The all-star team is the best in the entire country. Therefore, Sam Smith (the pitcher) must
be the best pitcher in the entire country.
DICTO SIMPLICITER: an argument, based on an unqualified generalization.
EX: Exercise is good; therefore, everybody should exercise.
CONTRADICTORY PREMISES: the main premises contradict each other.
EX: If God can do anything, can He make a stone so heavy He will not be able to lift it?
OVERGENERALI ZING (OR HASTY GENERALIZATION): Too few instances are presented to reach
an accurate conclusion.
EX: Tall men like ice cream.
PREMISE AND THE COMMON GROUND: the terms of the premise must be accepted as true.
EX: "All college graduates are geniuses" would not be a sound premise and would lead to the
FALSE ANALOGY: wrongful comparisons of dissimilar situations.
EX: Doctors have x-rays to guide them during operations; therefore, students should be able to
use their books during examinations.
AD VERICUNDIAM: an appeal to authority. ("Figures prove..." is a variation.)
EX: It says so in the Bible. My teacher says... The priest said....
AD POPULUM: appeal to a crowd.
EX: Mah fehlow Ahmericans .... (LBJ)
SELF-EVIDENT TRUTHS: proceeding from an unwarranted assumption to a foregone conclusion
(includes folk sayings: "Time is money").
EX: Everybody knows...
GUILT (OR INNOCENCE) BY ASSOCIATION:
EX: Max reads all those radical magazine articles that favor overthrow of the government, so he
must hold the same views.
EITHER/OR FALLACY: requires absolutes which do not allow for intermediate cases.
EX: Do you want to go to college or dig ditches all your life?
Obviously, some of the preceding fallacies overlap. Also, they may be given different names by
different authorities. Other examples could be included; no list is likely to be complete.
Syntax: Sentence Structure, A Component of Style
When considering style, it is important to note the syntax or sentence structure of a piece of prose or
poetry. Have students identify conjunctions including conjunctive adverbs.
What to look for in syntax: length and type of sentence; complete or fragment; pace; repetition;
emphasis; punctuation; shifts; word order or inversion; an unusual element or one that breaks
established patterns; patterns of phrases or sentences; divisions within a piece with a different syntax
in each; parallel structure and punctuation. What kind of sentence is used and why?
Declarative sentence: makes a statement. The man died. This type of sentence is common in both
narration and description. You need to note the difference (is the sentence narrative or descriptive?).
The tone of this type of sentence is certain and assertive.
Imperative sentence: gives a command. Don't die. The tone of this type of sentence is commanding,
assertive, or imploring.
Interrogative sentence: asks a question. Did he die? This type of sentence and piece of punctuation
often marks a questioning state of mind which may be troubled, curious, or confrontational It seeks
answers which it does not have.
Exclamatory sentence: makes an exclamation. Oh, please don't die! This type of sentence and
piece of punctuation often mark an emotional state which may be angry, fearful, pleading, etc. It
emphasizes the emotional response.
What length of sentence is used and why?
Telegraphic: shorter than five words in length.
Short: between five and eight words in length.
Medium: approximately eighteen words in length.
Long and involved: thirty words or more in length.
Short sentences often tend to be emotional ones. Long ones tend to be intellectual, contemplative, or
descriptive. Does the sentence length fit the subject matter? How? What is the effect of the sentence
length? Does it vary? Why? Where?
Sentence Patterns: Do the sentence types fit the subject matter? How? What is the effect of the
Simple sentence: contains one independent clause. It may contain a compound subject or verb. The
actors and the musicians bowed to the audience.
Compound sentence: contains two independent clauses joined by a coordinate conjunction, or by a
semicolon. The singer bowed to the audience, but she sang no encores.
Complex sentence: contains an independent clause and one or more subordinate (dependent)
clauses. You said that you would tell the truth.
Compound-complex sentence: contains two or more independent clauses and one or more
dependent (subordinate) clauses. The singer bowed while the audience applauded, but she sang no
Simple and compound sentences work best with children as subjects or simple concepts.
Complex ones need to match complex characters and ideas.
Why are the patterns what they are? How do they match the subject matter? What is their effect? Do
they change? When? Where? Why?
Loose sentence: one in which the main clause comes first, followed by further dependent
James slowly rose from his seat with a sly smile, determined to show the class that he could, for
once, answer the instructor's question.
Periodic sentence: one in which the main clause is withheld until the end.
Delighted by James's resolve, the class and the instructor burst into applause.
In formal writing, the periodic sentence is used for structural variety and rhetorical emphasis. The
loose sentence, however, a more relaxed construction, is more frequently used in informal writing
(creative pieces) and in conversation. Further, the periodic sentence is used to create the effect of
suspense as it propels the reader's attention forward to the end. It is also used in ironic or satiric
prose as well as when the writer wants either to delay the meaning to first create an impression, or
to suggest that things are not what they seem.
While he was declaring the ardour of his passion in such terms, as but too often make vehemence
pass for sincerity, Adeline, to whom this declaration, if honourable, was distressing, and if
dishonourable, was shocking, interrupted him and thanked him for the offer of a distinction, which,
with a modest, but determined air, she said she must refuse. Ann Radcliffe.
Thus the periodic sentence is a long sentence in which the completion of the syntax and sense is
delayed until the end, usually after a sequence of balanced subordinate clauses
Hypotactic sentence: marked by the use of connecting words between clauses or sentences,
explicitly showing the logical or other relationships between them.
I am tired because it is hot. Such use of syntactic subordination of one clause to another is known
Paratactic sentence: simply juxtaposes clauses or sentences.
I am tired: it is hot.
Natural order of sentences: the subject comes before the verb and is often followed by an object.
Poet's often invert this normal order for effect.. This is called inversion. Prose writers also use this
technique as periodic sentences are a form of inversion.
Split order of a sentence: this often divides the verb into two parts with the subject coming in the
middle. It can also simply re-arrange the normal order of the words for effect. Writers often do this
to call attention to the phrase. They also often put a word out of order at either the beginning of a
line or a sentence or at the end of a line or a sentence for emphasis.
In California oranges grow. This device is known as hyperbaton.
Examples include Robert Frost's: I was in my life alone. or Auden's: About suffering they were
never wrong, The old masters.
Juxtaposition: is a poetic and rhetorical device in which normally unassociated ideas, words, or
phrases are placed next to one another, creating an effect of surprise and wit.
Ezra Pound "The apparition of these faces in the crowd; / Petals on a wet, black bough"
Juxtaposition is also a form of contrast by which writers call attention to dissimilar ideas or images
or metaphors. Contrast is a major technique of syntax.
Parallel structure (parallelism): refers to a grammatical or structural similarity between sentences or
parts of a sentence. It involves an arrangement of words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs so
that elements of equal importance are equally developed and similarly phrased. It shows that the
ideas or words are parallel or similar. It evokes a comparison.
Edward Gibbon "I was neither elated by the ambition of fame, nor depressed by the apprehension
It can be used in poetry as well:
I'll give my jewels for a set of beads,
My gorgeous palace for a hermitage,
My gay apparel for an almsman's gown,
My figured goblets for a dish of wood… (Shakespeare Richard II)
Notice the repetition of “my”, which has the effect of making this a highly personal and subjective
Where the elements arranged in parallel are sharply opposed, the effect is one of antithesis.
Rather than saying something and then repeating it in other words, the writer both denies its
contrary and asserts it: “All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that
was made.” John 1:3
Rhetorical question: is a question which expects no answer. It is used to draw attention to a point and
is generally stronger than a direct statement. "For what can war but endless war still breed?" John
Sentence beginnings: examine sentence beginnings. Does the sentence or line begin with a
prepositional phrase, a participle, etc.? Is there a pattern? Also look for the sentence or line which
differs from the rest. It is usually the important one.
Apposition: the placing in immediately succeeding order of two or more coordinate elements, the
latter of which is an explanation, qualification, or modification of the first. This syntactical unit is
often set off by a colon. Example: He was a man of many faces: each face was the face of his
Adding or leaving out words:
Asyndeton: a condensed form of expression in which words, phrases, or clauses customarily joined
by conjunctions are presented in series without the conjunctions.
Caesar's (translation) "I came, I saw, I conquered." ('Veni, vidi, vici."
The effect of this is to speed the pace of the passage. This technique is the omission of an
expected conjunction. In a list of two or more items, we expect an and. When it is not there, it calls
attention to the phrase and the words in the phrase.
In Lincoln's “Gettysburg Address”, we expect an and before "for the people" which is not there.
"That government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Polysyndeton: choosing to have too many conjunctions. This device slows the pace and gives an
almost Biblical quality to the tone.
“When you are old and gray and full of sleep, And nodding by the fire, take down this book.” Yeats
Milton, speaking of Satan "...pursues his way, And swims, or sinks, or wades, or creeps, or flies."
Ellipsis: the omission of one or more words which, while essential to the grammatical structure of the
sentence or line, are easily supplied by the reader. The effect of ellipsis is rhetorical: it makes for
emphasis of the statement. The device often taps the reader into difficulties, since carelessness will
result in impossible constructions. Ellipses are also used to indicate words left out or ideas left out.
This is a common device used in stream of consciousness to separate ideas “Everybody's friend is
nobody's. . . “ Schopenhauer
Repetition: is a device in which words, sounds, and ideas are used more than once for the purpose of
enhancing rhythm and creating emphasis. What is the purpose of the repetition? How does it
contribute to meaning? "...government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish
from the earth. . . " ("Address at Gettysburg" by Abraham Lincoln). Notice the emphasis on people,
the key ingredient in a democracy and in preserving that democracy. Look for repetition of key
words, phrase, and sentence patterns. The repetition means the writer wants to emphasize the
idea, image, or metaphor.
Repetition (forms of)
Epanalepsis: one of the devices of repetition in which the same expression (word or words) is
repeated both at the beginning and at the end of the line, clause, or sentence. “Common sense is
not so common.” Voltaire
Epistrophe: one of the devices of repetition in which the same expression (word or words) is repeated
at the end of two or more lines, clauses, or sentences. “For truth is one, and right is ever one.”
Anaphora: one of the devices of repetition in which the same expression (word or words) is repeated
at the beginning of two or more lines, clauses., or sentences. This is a form of parallelism and
repetition. Wait Whitman—“ As I ebb'd with the ocean of life, As I wended the shores I know, As I
walk'd where the ripples continually wash you Paumanok.”
Palindrome: a peculiar form of repetition in which the second half of the sentence repeats the letters
of the first half in the opposite order. In other words, the sentence reads the same forwards or
backwards. Example: A man, a plan, a canal, Panama!
Inversion: of sentence or word order. this often involves putting the verb before the subject or the
object before the subject. In California grow oranges. This creates an emphasis the writer wishes
or a rhythmic effect. Know why this was done.
Inversion (forms of)
Anastrophe: (fancy term for inversion) inversion of the usual, normal, or logical order of the parts of a
sentence. The purpose is rhythm or. emphasis or euphony as in the following lines by Pope Nor
fierce' Othello in so loud a strain Roar'd for the handkerchief that caus'd him pain.
Antimetabole: the repetition of words in successive clauses in reverse grammatical order. Moliere
"one should eat to live, not live to eat."
In prose this is called antimetabole, in poetry chiasmus.
Chiasmus: a type of rhetorical balance in which the second part is syntactically balanced against the
first but with the parts reversed. Coleridge "Flowers are lovely, love is flowerlike."
( pronounced kī AZ muhs)
Punctuation: examine the punctuation which is-often a clue to both meaning and effect. Dashes are
used to separate ideas and are indicative of a conversational and personal style. The important
thoughts are often in the dashes as they are more revealing. Note the use of colons. What follows
the colon is often not a list but a restatement or a further explanation of the prior unit of meaning.
Note in poetry whether the lines are end-stopped or enjambed (their meaning runs over into the
next line). Note exclamation marks and question marks. Hyphens join ideas.
Rhetorical Shifts: the AP exam loves to ask where the rhetorical shifts take place, what the shift
indicates, and why the shift was made. To find rhetorical shifts in both prose and poetry, the reader
must be sensitive to turn words (trophe and antistrophe). Such words as but, yet, now, and then
often indicate a change in mood, tone, effect, and meaning. This change is called a rhetorical shift.
The shift is also often indicated by a change in paragraphs, a change in prose form say from
description to dialogue, or a change in speaker which signals a change in tone. There are shifts in
tone, in point of view, and in syntax.
Parenthesis: an explanatory remark thrown into the body of a statement and frequently separated
from it by parentheses ( ). However, any comment which is an interruption of the immediate
subject is spoken of as a parenthesis whether it be a word, phrase, clause, sentence, or
paragraph. This device is used to show a casual, familiar style, or it can be a form of authorial
intrusion (when you hear the author's comment inserted into the story.)
Pace: pace is a function of not only rhythm, sound devices, but also of length of words, number of
conjunctions used, and length of sentence. What is the pace of the sentence(s)? Why does the
pace quicken in some parts of a passage? Why and where does it slow down?
Source of interesting reading: Arthur Quinn, Figures of Speech (Sixty Ways to Turn a Phrase),
1982, Peregrine Smith Book, Salt Lake City.
Rhetoric in the Advanced Placement English Program
Rhetoric is the art of persuasion. It incorporates the principles and theories having to do with the
presentation of facts and ideas in clear, persuasive, and attractive language.
The founder of rhetoric is believed to have been Corax of Syracuse, who in the fifth century B.C.
stipulated fundamental principles for public argument and laid down five divisions for a speech:
proem, argument, remarks, and a peroration or conclusion. Aristotle wrote a rhetoric about 320 B.C.
Longinus wrote an Art of Rhetoric about AD. 260, and Aphthonius about AD. 380 gave the subject a
code and organization which have persisted. To the ancients the aim of rhetoric was to make oratory
effective. According to the Aristotelian conception, rhetoric was a manner of effectively organizing
material for the presentation of truth, for an appeal to the intellect through speech, and it was distinct
from poetics, a manner of composition presenting ideas emotionally and imaginatively. Along with
grammar and logic, rhetoric made up the basic trivium of medieval academic study. Today we have
rhetorical criticism, a kind of criticism that emphasizes the communication between the author and the
reader. Rhetorical criticism analyzes the elements in a literary work which are employed by the author
to impose upon the reader the author's view of the meaning of the work. We also have rhetorical
figures of speech which are departures from customary or standard uses of language to achieve
special effects without changing the basic meaning of the words. Many of the special effects are
syntactic. We also have the rhetorical question which does not require a reply since the answer is
Edward P. J. Corbett, Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student T. J. Kallsen and D.F. McCoy,
Rhetoric and Reading Order and Idea Laurence Perrine, Structure, Sound and Sense. Rhetoric is an
important part of both the Composition and Literature and the Composition and Language exam, but
it is especially crucial to the latter. The Language exam has a significant non-fiction component which
the Literature exam does not. Though not all non-fiction is rhetorical or persuasive writing, some non-
fiction is descriptive or narrative in purpose; non-fiction should be a significant part of any language
course as should the study of rhetoric. Logic including syllogisms and fallacies is an important part of
the study of rhetoric as well.
Good sources for non-fiction
The Riverside Reader The Bedford Reader The Brief Bedford Reader Structure, Sound and Sense
Great American Essays (published yearly) Rhetoric and Readina Order and Idea
Method for Analyzing Non-fiction
(Purpose, Audience, Theme [Message], Tone, Rhetoric)
1. author's purpose: persuasion, information, description, narration
2. the audience: intended readers
3. tone: diction, imagery, details, language, syntax that suggest the author's attitude
4. the theme or message.
5. Rhetorical Devices: any device which persuades the audience to agree with the writer:
assertion, example, rebuttal are types of devices that persuade. rhetoric: the way the College
Board uses the word includes effective use of language that is persuasive or guides the reader to
agree with the writer, not just the mode of persuasion as a form of composition.
• analogy: making clear a concept or idea by showing its similarity to a more familiar concept.
Example: Using a nuclear weapon to kill people is like using a shotgun to kill flies.
• analysis of cause: identifying the forces responsible for an effect
• anticipation of rejection: addressing an objection before anyone else does. Example: You may
think that abolishing the dress code would result in better student achievement because students
would not be overly concerned with their clothing. Nothing could be further from the truth.
• considering of appeal: an address to the audience usually through the pronoun "You" or"'we"
used to link the writer to the reader.
• assertion: to suggest for consideration as true or possible.
• antithesis: a statement of purpose opposed to an earlier assertion or thesis.
• anticipate an objection: to anticipate[ate an objection, address it before anyone else can raise
• ad hominem: to attack another's argument as weak because of a human failing that is not
logically part of the argument.
• bias: all writers have a bias. Example: an argument against abortion is often influenced by a
Christian background (the Ten Commandments).
• concession: an acknowledgement of objections to a proposal.
• consequences of event: using a cause and effect argument to make one's point. Example: The
rigid enforcement of the dress code has resulted in an 83% drop in office referrals and a 63%
drop in classroom detentions.
• correction of erroneous views of statement: pointing out where another's observations need
modification or correction.
• corrective measures: proposing measures to eliminate undesirable conditions.
• consequences of an event: listing or indicating what resulted from a particular even or
• definition: clarifying the meaning of an idea by defining it exactly and graphically. Example:
Violence, the senseless grotesque and wanton slaughter of a fellow human being...
• description: the enumeration of characteristics of objects that belong to the same class.
• deduction: arguing from a general point to particular application.
• direct address: to speak to directly, remove any separation between the audience and the writer.
• emotional appeal: a writer can persuade or refute by emotional appeal. It is the writer's effort to
engage the feelings of the audience. This can be done by prophecy, warning, pledge or advice.
• extended metaphor: a protracted metaphor or conceit which makes a series of parallel
comparisons. Example: Life is a long and winding road full of potholes, dangerous curves and
hazards all capable of smashing you up in one unexpected moment of carelessness ... or
• fallacy: faulty reasoning.
• Fallacy has two meanings: a false or erroneous statement
invalid, specious, or deceptive reasoning.
• Fallacies of reasoning in deduction include equivocation, undistributed middle term, illicit
process, conclusion from two negative premises, affirmation or conclusion from a negative
premise, either/or fallacy, fallacy of denying the antecedent.
• Fallacies of reasoning in induction include faulty generalization, faulty casual generalizations,
faulty analogy, begging the question, argument ad hominem ("to the man"), argument ad
populum ('to the people"), the "red herring" fallacy, the complex question fallacy, and question
begging like "When did you stop beating your wife?"
• hyperbole: a gross exaggeration or comic or satiric effect. Example: My mother-inlaw never
shuts up; she can drone on for hours, days, years even.
• induction: arguing from the specific to the general.
• inquiry as introduction: setting an essay in motion by raising a question and suggesting that the
answer may be interesting or important.
• illustration of ways to correct a condition logic: the study of deductive reasoning both valid
• overstatement (hyperbole): to say considerably more than a condition warrants usually for
• rebuttal: final opposition to an assertion; disprove or refute.
• reductio ad absurdum (reduce to the absurd): showing the foolishness of an argument by
taking it to an extreme conclusion. Example: If school taxes were raised 5%, that would mean a
daily average of less than 1/3 of a cent per day per citizen. Is that too much to spend educating
• refutation: to refute by an appeal to reason, by emotional appeal, or by ethical appeal, or by an
appeal to wit.
• rhetorical question: a question for which the answer is unneeded or obvious. This is often used
at the end of an argument to remind the reader that they have been persuaded. (See the last
sentence in reduce to the absurd.)
• specious reasoning: having only apparent logic; not truly logical but presented as such.
• syllogism: the syllogism was a schematic device that Aristotle invented to analyze and test
deductive reasoning. The syllogism has a major premise, a minor premise and a conclusion. It
follows if a is true, and b is true, then c must be true. A syllogism is the core of the study of logic
or deductive reasoning. However, a syllogism can be constructed in a faulty way and fallacies
• testimony: argument by validation from someone who claims to have experience. thesis: a
statement of purpose or intent.
• understatement (meiosis; litotes): to say considerably less than a condition warrants usually
for ironic effect. Example: He was not unmindful (He gave careful attention).
When several devices are organized in an effective way, the writer has created a stance or a
strategy. Some effective stances include
a. convincing arguments for and against an idea
b. examine implication while leaving conclusions unresolved
c. condemn the illogic of those who hold one or several opinions different from the writer's.
d. progressively narrow focus from a universal, accepted concept to a specific personal
e. divert attention from major issues with digressions.
1. state a thesis then refute it
2. suggest possibilities and dismiss all but one (the one you want your audience to accept)
3. pose a problem and solve it
4. form a hypothesis and test its implication
5. express an opinion and then contradict it with facts
6. narrate several unrelated episodes and link them in a surprising way
7. chronological narration shifting to reflection'
8. appreciative reporting
9. dispassionate recollection (testimony)
10. comparison and contrast
11. rhetorical shift ( shifting): leading your audience in one direction and suddenly take them in
A skilled rhetorician (noun) will use many of these devices in order to persuade the reader. As you
read persuasive non-fiction, look for these devices and ask yourself if they are valid or are they being
used to trick you into accepting the argument the writer wants the reader to accept.
Section 3: The Study of Literature
The Short Story
DEFINITION OF A SHORT STORY:
1. Must be written in prose form (sentence form--unlike poetry)
2. Should be approximately 5,000 words or less
3. Should have some type of characterization
4. Must be fiction (not true)
OTHER SHORT STORIES: parables in the Bible, the Greek and Roman myths, legends, etc.
Short Story Elements
I. Plot--the sequence of incidents or actions in a story. Whatever the characters do, or
whatever happens to them, constitutes the plot. In some stories plot does little more than
create excitement. These stories usually rely on suspense, danger, mystery, action, physical
conflict and surprise. In other stories the plot also helps to exhibit character traits and to
reveal some truth about life. In such stories the plot may be exciting, but it does not exist for
its own sake.
A. Plot stages
1. Exposition - introduces characters, setting and the basic situation. This is the
beginning of the story. It usually tells the reader where the characters were
before the conflict began.
2. Initial or Inciting Incident - sets the conflict to be resolved.
3. Rising action - develops the conflict. It also develops character relationships
and any subplots.
4. Falling action - ties up all of the loose ends of the story. It may tell some of
the results of the conflict resolution.
5. Climax - the high point of the story. Everything prior to this was building to
this point. Climax is the high point of suspense or excitement.
6. Denouement or Resolution - the end of the story. Anything that takes place
after the falling action is the denouement or resolution.
B. Conflict--the most important element of the plot; the problem in the story.
1. External conflict - takes place outside of a person
a) Man vs. man - one character against another
b) Man vs. nature - a character against nature
c) Man vs. society - a character against everyone else.
2. Internal conflict - a character struggles with inner problems.
3. The story usually ends when the conflict is resolved; however, in some
stories the conflict is left unresolved.
1. Flashback - a section of a literary work that interrupts the sequence of events
to relate an event from an earlier time.
2. Foreshadowing - the use in a literary work of clues that suggest events that
have yet to occur.
3. Suspense - the quality in a story that makes the reader keep reading in order
to find out what will happen next.
II. Character - a person or animal who takes part in the action of a literary work. Fiction allows
us to see more deeply into the inner nature of a character than we usually do in life. First it
places its characters into crucial situations, which test them and expose their nature more
clearly than would ordinary situations. Second, authors can, when they wish, take us inside a
character and let us experience at first-hand inner thoughts and feelings which in life we
could only guess at from outward actions.
A. Major characters
1. Protagonist - the main character
2. Antagonist - a major character who opposes the protagonist
B. Character types
1. Round character - one who shows many different traits, faults as well as
2. Flat character - a character who is only one-dimensional
3. Dynamic character - one who develops and changes during the story.
4. Static character - one who does not change during the story.
C. Characterization - the act of creating and developing a character.
1. Direct characterization - the author directly states the character’s traits
2. Indirect characterization - the author tells what a character looks like, does,
and says, as well as how other characters react to him or her. it is up to the
reader to draw conclusions about the character based on this indirect
D. Character features - No two characters are exactly alike. Below are some of the
feature that make characters distinct.
1. Appearance - What does the character look like? What kinds of clothes does
the character wear? What doe these aspects of appearance reveal about
2. Personality - Does the character tend to be emotional or rational?
Introverted or outgoing? Competent or incompetent? Controlled or
uncontrolled? Radical or conservative? Caring or cold? A leader or a
follower? Principled or unscrupulous?
3. Background - Where did the character grow up? What experiences has he or
she had? Is the character experienced or naive? What is the character’s
social status? Level of education? Occupation? What are the character’s
hobbies or skills?
4. Motivation - What makes the character act as he or she does? What are the
character’s likes and dislikes? What are the character’s wishes, goals,
desires, dreams, and needs?
5. Relationships - How is the character related to other characters in the
narrative? In what ways does he or she interact with these characters?
What are the consequences of these interactions?
6. Conflict - Is the character involved in some conflict? Internal or external? Is
the conflict resolved? How?
7. Change - Does the character change in the course of the narrative? Does he
or she learn or grow?
1. Foil - a character who is contrasted with another character.
2. Hero / heroine - a character whose actions are inspiring or noble.
3. Stereotype - a fixed and over simplified idea of what a type of person or
group of people is like.
III. Theme - the general idea or insight into life that the story presents.
A. Irony - a discrepancy between what appears to be and what really is (appearance vs.
1. Verbal irony - speakers or writers say the opposite of what they mean.
2. Dramatic irony - the discrepancy is between what the character says (or
thinks) and what the reader knows is true.
3. Irony of situation - the discrepancy is between events in the plot and our
expectations of what will or should happen.
B. Symbol - an object, person, idea or action that represents something other than itself.
1. A crown could represent a king
2. Black could represent death
3. A fork in the road could represent decisions
IV. Setting - the time and place of a story’s action. Setting also includes the cultural background
against which the actions take place.
V. Point of View - the perspective from which an author writes a story.
A. First person narration - the story is told by one of the characters in the story, with the
character referring to himself or herself as “I.” The character who tells the story is
called the narrator.
B. Third person narration - the narrator is a voice outside the story who refers to all the
characters as he, she, or they.
C. Limited third person narration - the narrator relates the events from the point of view
of one of the characters. The reader sees events only through the eyes of one of the
characters and knows only what that character knows.
D. Omniscient narration - the voice telling the story is all seeing and all knowing. The
omniscient narrator can tell you things the characters do not know. The narrator can
also enter the mind of the characters and tell you what they think and feel.
Tips for Answering Style Analysis Questions
(Both Poetry and Prose)
UNDERSTAND and ANALYZE the question.
a. Determine what it is asking. What is the focus?
b. Examine all parts.
INTRODUCTION. Show the reader:
a. that you understand the question and
b. that you know the answer. Demonstrate this knowledge in your thesis (identify tone, if
• FOCUS: Introduction should be very tight; don’t tackle the world; set aside the inverted
• Try not to simply rephrase the question, but if you’re stuck, use it.
• 2-3 sentences is probably enough.
• Be creative if appropriate and you have time (avoid cuteness).
• Clearly identify the passage’s tone- review tone words.
• Diction: examine connotation of the words.
• Discuss HOW language works and is used rather than simply identifying figures.
• Avoid listing items; deal with 2-3 examples rather than listing 8 words.
• Integrate questions smoothly into the body of your text.
• Show your own facility with language as you talk about language.
CONCLUSION: Come to a sense of closure even if out of time.
• Avoid broad general statements.
• No need for a moral OR a personal comment.
• Retain analytical mode.
• Sometimes a final question is perfect.
• A final paragraph is not always necessary.
Some key definitions to review so that you can understand and USE THEM WHEN APPROPRIATE
(i.e., when the use of them helps you to explain how techniques aid in conveying meaning), but not
just so you can flash your “brilliant” vocabulary:
For the analysis of prose:
tone, diction, connotation, detail/imagery, syntax, organization, point of view (1 person, 3 person
limited, omniscient), simile, metaphor personification
For the analysis of poetry:
denotation, connotation, imagery, overstatement, hyperbole, understatement, diction (word
choice/connotation), metaphor, simile, personification, synecdoche, symbol, allegory, paradox, irony
(dramatic, verbal, situational), sarcasm, satire, allusion, tone, alliteration, assonance, consonance,
masculine rime, feminine rime, internal rime, end rime, meter, foot, scansion, stanza, iambic
pentameter, heroic couplet, blank verse, onomatopoeia, euphony, cacophony, Italian/Petrarchan
sonnet, sestet, couplet, English/Shakespearean sonnet, octave, quatrain
Also review: Perrine’s 3 questions, TP-CASTT method
A Method for the Analysis of Fiction
NATURE OF THE STORY
A. Identify the conflict. Can it be described as the individual against fate, pawn against
pawn, or the individual against his/herself?
B. Is the story primarily concerned with plot, with character, with setting, or with idea?
PLOT AND STRUCTURE
A. Trace the main events in the action. How does the plot affect the structure of the story?
1. Explain the development of the plot-identify, if you can, the exposition,
complications, turning point, and denouement.
2. Is suspense a main element of the plot? What techniques does the author use to
create and sustain suspense?
3. How does the author pi t the exposition? For example, how does he or she describe
the physical and psychological setting, the identity and relationships of the
characters, and the important offstage events that occur before or during the action?
Is the handling of these details clumsy or skillful, implicit or explicit, natural or
4. Is there an emotional climax and, if so, does it coincide with the structural climax in
B. How does the action of the story reveal or develop character?
C. How do the events illustrate the theme of the story?
A. How does the author use time in structuring the story? Does the writer present the story
primarily in summary passages (compressions of lengthy action) or in scenes (passages
of immediate action and dialogue)? Is there an effective balance between the two
B. How does the handling of time affect the presentation and undlerstaning of character?
Which use of time-summary or scenic-makes the reader more vividly aware of the
character’s personal identity?
A. How important is the author’s analysis of a character’s state of mind or motivation?
B. If the author does not analyze the character, how does the story encourage the reader to
make an analysis of the character or to infer his feelings, state of mind, and motivation?
C. How does the author use the following techniques in presenting and developing the
characters in the story?
1. physical description of the character (physique, clothes, manners, characteristics,
4. relationship between a character’s words and actions
5. interaction between the character and the physical environment
6. interaction with the social environment (character’s estimate of others and their
estimate of him/her)
7. the character’s ideas and attitudes about himself/herself, toward others, toward life,
and toward the world
D. To what extent do the major characters develop or change? Which characters are static
and why? To what extent are the characters individualized? To what extent are they
E. Evaluate the characterizations according to individuality, intelligibility, credibility,
vividness, vitality, and consistency.
F. To what extent can a reader identify with the major character(s)? How does the degree of
identification affect the reading/understanding of the story?
A. How does the setting create or reinforce the mood in the story? Does the physical
setting correspond to or contrast with the psychological tone?
B. To what extent does the setting reinforce the central idea in the story? Are there
symbolic elements (e.g. light, darkness, weather conditions) that relate to the theme?
A. Point of View
1. What is the narrative point of view- first person, involved or observer; third person
limited; third person dramatic; third person omniscient? Is the same point of view
used consistently? If there are shifts in perspective, what is their purpose?
2. What is the author’s attitude toward the characters and action-didactic, satirical,
clinical, sympathetic, facetious, sarcastic, cynical, ironic?
A. Is there one unifying symbol in the story?
B. Are the central symbols persons? Objects? Terms?
C. How does the central symbol-- or a symbolic cluster or patterm-- illuminate the theme?
A. Formulate a statement of theme for the story. What major moral or philosophical values
does the story suggest? What statement about human experience does the story make?
Is the theme explicitly stated or implied in the action?
B. What major elements communicate the theme-character, symbol, action?
Critical Approaches Important to the Study of Literature
Writing About Literature. Ed. Roberts
A number of critical theories or approaches for understanding and interpreting literature are available
to critics and students alike. Many of these have been developed during the twentieth century to
create a discipline of literary studies comparable with disciplines in the natural and social sciences.
Literary critics have often borrowed liberally from other disciplines (e.g., history, psychology,
anthropology) but have primarily aimed at developing literature as a course of study in its own right.
At the heart of the various critical approaches have been many fundamental questions: What is
literature? What does it do? Is its concern only to tell stories, or is it to express emotions? Is it
private? Public? How does it get its ideas across? What more does it do than express ideas? How
valuable was literature in the past and how valuable is it now? What can it contribute to intellectual,
artistic, and social history? To what degree is literature an art, as opposed to an instrument for
imparting knowledge? How is literature used, and how and why is it misused? What theoretical and
technical expertise may be invoked to enhance literary studies?
Questions such as these indicate that criticism is concerned not only with reading and
interpreting stories, poems, and plays, but also with establishing theoretical understanding. Because
of such extensive aims, you will understand that a full explanation and illustration of the approaches
would fill the pages of a long book. The following descriptions are therefore intended as no more than
brief introductions. Bear in mind that in the hands of skilled critics, the approaches are so subtle,
sophisticated, and complex that they are not only critical stances but also philosophies.
Although the various approaches provide widely divergent ways to study literature and literary
problems, they reflect major tendencies rather than absolute straitjacketing. Not every approach is
appropriate for every work, nor are the approaches always mutually exclusive. Even the most
devoted practitioners of the methods do not pursue them rigidly In addition, some of the approaches
are more "user- friendly-" for certain types of discovery than others. To a degree at least, most critics
therefore utilize methods that technically belong to one or more of the other approaches. A critic
stressing the topical/ historical approach, for example, might introduce the close study of a work that
is associated with the method of the New Criticism. Similarly, a psychoanalytical critic might include
details about archetypes. In short, a great deal of criticism is pragmatic or eclectic rather than rigid.
The approaches to be considered here are these: moral/intellectual; topical/historical; New
Critical/formalist; structuralist; feminist; economic determinist/Marxist; psychological/psychoanalytic;
archetypal/symbolic/mythic; Deconstructionist; and Reader-Response.
Following each description is a brief paragraph showing how Hawthorne's story "Young
Goodman Brown" might be considered in the light of the particular approach. The paragraph following
the discussion of structuralism, for example, shows how the structuralist approach can be applied to
Goodman Brown and his story.
The moral /intellectual approach is concerned with content and values (see Chapter 7). The approach
is as old as literature itself, for literature is a traditional mode of imparting morality, philosophy, and
religion. The concern in moral/ intellectual criticism is not only to discover meaning but also to deter-
mine whether works of literature are both true and significant.
To study literature from the moral/ intellectual perspective is therefore to determine whether an
individual work conveys a lesson or a message, and whether it can help readers lead better lives and
improve their understanding of the world: What ideas does the work contain? How strongly does the
work bring forth its ideas? What application do the ideas have to the work's characters and
situations? How may they be evaluated intellectually? Morally? A discussion based on such questions
does not necessarily require a position of command or exhortation. Ideally, moral/ intellectual criticism
should differ from sermonizing to the degree that readers should always be left with their own
decisions about whether they wish to assimilate the content of a work and about whether this content
is personally or morally acceptable.
Sophisticated critics have sometimes demeaned the moral/ intellectual approach on the
grounds that "message hunting" reduces a work's artistic value by treating it like a sermon or political
speech; but the approach will be valuable as long as readers expect literature to be applicable to their
"Young Goodman Brown" raises the issue of how an institution designed for human elevation,
such as the religious system of colonial Salem, can be so ruinous. Does the failure result from
the system itself or from the people who misunderstand it? Is what is true of religion as
practiced by Brown also true of social and political institutions? Should any religious or political
philosophy be given greater credence than goodwill and mutual trust? One of the major virtues
of "Young Goodman Brown" is that it provokes questions like these but at the same time
provides a number of satisfying answers. A particularly important one is that religious and
moral beliefs should not be used to justify. the condemnation of others. Another important
answer is that attacks made from the refuge of a religion or group, such as Brown's puritanical
judgment, is dangerous because it enables the judge to condemn without thought and without
This traditional approach stresses the relationship of literature to its historical period, and for this
reason it has had a long life. Although much literature may be applicable to many places and times,
much of it also directly reflects the intellectual and social worlds of the authors. When was the work
written? What were the circumstances that produced it? What major issues does it deal with? How
does it fit into the author's career? Keats's poem "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer," for
example, is his excited response to his reading of one of the major literary works of Western
civilization. Hardy's "Channel Firing' is an acerbic response to continued armament and preparation
for war during the twentieth century.
The topical/ historical approach investigates relationships of this sort, including the elucidation
of words and concepts that today's readers may not immediately understand. Obviously, the
approach requires the assistance of footnotes, dictionaries, histories, and handbooks.
A common criticism of the topical/ historical approach is that in the extreme it-deals with
background knowledge rather than with literature itself. It is possible, for example, for a topical/
historical critic to describe a writer's life, the period of the writer's work, and the social and intellectual
ideas of the time-all without ever considering the meaning, importance, and value of the work itself.
"Young Goodman Brown" is an allegorical story by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), the
New England writer who probed deeply into the relationships between religion and guilt. His
ancestors had been involved in religious persecutions, including the Salem witch trials, and
he, living 150 years afterward, wanted to probe the weaknesses and uncertainties of the
sin-dominated religion of the earlier period. Not surprisingly, therefore, "Young Goodman
Brown" takes place in Puritan, colonial Salem. Although the immediate concerns of the story
belong to a vanished age, Hawthorne's treatment is still valuable because it is still timely.
The New Criticism began in the 1930s and 1940s and has since been a domi-. nant force in
twentieth-century literary studies. To the degree that New Criticism focuses upon literary texts as
formal works of art, it departs from the topical/ historical approach. The objection raised by the New
Critics is that as topical/ historical critics consider literary history, they avoid close contact with actual
The inspiration for the formalist or New Critical approach was the French practice of
explication de texte, a method that emphasizes detailed examination and explanation. The New
Criticism is therefore at its most brilliant in the analysis of smaller units such as entire poems and
short passages. The New Criticism also utilizes a number of techniques for the analysis of larger
structures, many of which form the basis for the chapters in this book. Discussions of "point of view,"
"tone," “plot," "character," and "'structure,"' for example, are ways of looking at literature derived from
the New Criticism.
The aim of the formalist study of literature is to provide readers not only with the means of
explaining the content of works ("What, specifically, does this say?"), but also with the critical tools
needed for evaluating the artistic quality of individual works and writers ("How well is it said?"). A
major aspect of New Critical thought is that content and form-including any ideas, ambiguities,
subtleties, and even apparent contradictions-were originally within the conscious or subconscious
control of the author. There are no accidents. It does not necessarily follow, however, that today's
critic is able to define the author's intentions exactly, for such intentions require knowledge of
biographical details that are irretrievably lost. Each literary work therefore takes on its own existence
and identity, and the critic's work is to discover a reading or readings that explain the facts of the text.
Note that the New Critic does not claim infallible interpretations and does not exclude the validity of
multiple readings of identical works.
Dissenters from the New Criticism have noted a tendency by New Critics to ignore relevant
knowledge that history and biography may bring to literary studies. In addition, the approach has
been subject to the charge that stressing the examination of texts alone fails to deal with the value
and appreciation of literature.
A major aspect of Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" is that the details are so vague and
dreamlike that many readers are uncertain about what is happening. The action is a nighttime
walk by the protagonist, Young Goodman Brown, into a deep forest where he encounters a
mysterious Satanic ritual that leaves him bitter and misanthropic. This much seems clear, but
the precise nature of Brown's experience is not clear, nor is the identity of the stranger (father,
village elder, devil) who accompanies Brown as he begins his walk. At the story's end
Hawthorne's narrator states that the whole episode may have been no more than a dream or
nightmare. Yet when morning comes, Brown walks back into town as though returning from an
overnight trip, and he recoils in horror from his fellow villagers, including his wife Faith
(paragraph 70.). Could his attitude result from nothing more than a nightmare?
Even at the story's end these uncertainties remain. For this reason one may conclude that
Hawthorne deliberately creates the uncertainties to reveal how persons like Brown build
defensive walls of judgment around themselves. The story thus implies that the real source of
Brown's anger is as vague as his nocturnal walk, but he doesn't understand it in this way.
Because Brown's vision and judgment are absolute, he rejects everyone around him, even if
the cost is a life of bitter suspicion and spiritual isolation.
The principle of structuralism stems from the attempt to find relationships and connections among
elements that appear to be separate and discrete. Just as physical science reveals unifying universal
principles of matter such as gravity and the forces of electromagnetism (and is constantly searching
for a "unified field theory"), structuralism attempts to discover the forms unifying all literatures. Thus a
structural description of Maupassant's "The Necklace" would stress that the main character, Mathilde,
is an active protagonist who undergoes a test (or series of tests) and emerges with a victory, though
not the kind she had originally hoped for. The same might be said of Phoenix in Welty's "A Worn
Path."- If this same kind of structural view is applied to Bierce's "An Occurrence at Owl Creek
Bridge,"" the protagonist would emerge in defeat. Generally, the structural approach applies such
patterns to other works of literature to determine that some protagonists are active or submissive, that
they pass or fail their tests, or that they succeed or fail at other encounters. The key is that many
apparently unrelated works reveal many common patterns or contain similar structures with important
The structural approach has become important because it enables critics to discuss works
from widely separate cultures and historical periods. In this respect, critics have followed the leads of
modern anthropologists, most notably Claude Lévi-Strauss (b. 1908). Along such lines, critics have
undertaken the serious examination of folk tales and fairy tales. Some of the groundbreaking
structuralist criticism, for example, was devoted to the structural principles underlying Russian folk
tales. The method also bridges popular and serious literature, making little distinction between the
two insofar as the description of the structures is concerned. Indeed, structuralism furnishes an ideal
approach for comparative literature, and the method also enables critics to consolidate genres such
as modern romances, detective tales, soap operas, and films.
Like the New Criticism, structuralism aims at comprehensiveness of description, and many
critics would insist that the two are complementary and not separate. A distinction is that the New
Criticism is at its best in dealing with smaller units of literature, whereas structuralism is best in the
analysis of narratives and therefore larger units such as novels, myths, and stories. Because
structuralism shows how fiction is organized into various typical situations, the approach merges with
the archetypal approach, and at times it is difficult to find any distinctions between structuralism and
Structuralism, however, deals not just with narrative structures, but also with structures of any
type, wherever they occur. For example, structuralism makes great use of linguistics. Modem
linguistic scholars have determined that there is a difference between "deep structures" and "surface
structures" in language. A structuralist analysis of style, therefore, would stress the ways in which
writers utilize such structures. The structuralist interpretation of language also perceives
distinguishing types or "grammars" of language that are recurrent in various types of literature.
Suppose, for example, that you encounter opening passages like the following:
Once upon a time a young prince fell in love with a young princess. He decided to tell her of
his love, and early one morning he left his castle on his white charger, riding toward her castle
home high in the mountains.
Early that morning Alan had found himself thinking about Anne. He had believed her when she
said she loved him, but his feelings about her were not certain, and his thinking had left him
The words of these two passages create different and distinct frames of reference. One is a fairy tale,
the other the internalized reflection of feeling. The passages therefore demonstrate how language
itself fits into predetermined patterns or structures. Similar uses of language structures can be
associated with other types of literature.
Young Goodman Brown is a hero who is passive, not active. Essentially, he is a witness, a
receiver rather than a doer. His only action-taking his trip in the forest-occurs at the story's
beginning. After that point, he no longer acts but instead is acted upon, and what he sees puts
his Iife's beliefs to a test. Of course, many protagonists undergo similar testing (such as
rescuing victims and slaying particularly terrible dragons), and they emerge triumphant. Not so
with Goodman Brown. He is a responder who allows himself to be victimized by his own
perceptions-or misperceptions. Despite all his previous experiences with his wife and with the
good people of his village, he generalizes too hastily. He lets the single disillusioning
experience of his nightmare govern his entire outlook on others, and thus he fails his test and
turns his entire life into failure.
The feminist approach holds that most of our literature presents a masculine-patriarchal view in which
the role of women is negated or at best minimized. As an adjunct of the feminist movement in politics,
the feminist critique of literature seeks to raise consciousness about the importance and unique
nature of women in literature.
Specifically, the feminist view attempts (1) to show that writers of traditional literature have
ignored women and have also transmitted misguided and prejudiced views of them, (2) to stimulate
the creation of a critical milieu that reflects a balanced view of the nature and value of women, (3) to
recover the works of women writers of past times and to encourage the publication of present women
writers so that the literary canon may be expanded to recognize women as thinkers and artists, and
(4) to urge transformations in the language to eliminate inequities and inequalities that result from
In form, the feminist perspective seeks to evaluate various literary works from the standpoint of
the presentation of women. For works such as "The Necklace" (story), "A Work of Artifice" (poem),
and The Bear (play), a feminist critique would focus on how such works treat women and also on
either the shortcomings or enlightenment of the author as a result of this treatment: How important
are the female characters, how individual in their own right? Are they credited with their own
existence and their own character? In their relationships with men, how are they treated? Are they
given equal status? Ignored? Patronized? Demeaned? Pedestalized? How much concern do the
male characters exhibit about women's concerns?
At the beginning of "Young Goodman Brown," Brown's wife, Faith, is only peripheral. In the
traditional patriarchal spirit of wife-as-adjunct, she asks her husband to stay at home and take
his journey at another time. Hawthorne does not give her the intelligence or dignity, however,
to let her explain her concern (or might he not have been interested in what she had to say?),
and she therefore remains in the background with her pink hair ribbon as her distinguishing
characteristic. During the mid-forest Satanic ritual she appears again and is given power, but
only the power to cause her husband to go astray. Once she is led in as a novice in the
practice of demonism, her husband falls right in step. Unfortunately, by following her, Brown
may conveniently excuse himself from guilt by claiming that "she" had made him do it, just as
Eve "made" Adam eat the apple. Hawthorne's attention to the male hero, in other words,
permits him to distort the female's role.
The concept of cultural and economic determinism is one of the major political ideas of the last
century. Karl Marx (1818-1883) emphasized that the primary influence on life was economic, and he
saw society as an opposition between the capitalist and working classes. The literature that emerged
from this kind of analysis features individuals in the grips of the class struggle. Often called
"proletarian literature," it emphasizes persons of the lower class-the poor and oppressed who spend
their lives in endless drudgery and misery, and whose attempts to rise above their disadvantages
usually result in renewed suppression.
Marx's political ideas were never widely accepted in the United States and have faded still
more after the political breakup of the Soviet Union, but the idea of economic determinism (and the
related term "Social Darwinism") is still credible. As a result, much literature can be judged from an
economic perspective: What is the economic status of the characters? What happens to them as a
result of this status? How do they fare against economic and political odds? What other conditions
stemming from their class does the writer emphasize (e.g., poor education, poor nutrition, poor health
care, inadequate opportunity)? To what extent does the work fail by overlooking the economic, social,
and political implications of its material? In what other ways does economic determinism affect the
work? How should readers consider the story in today's developed or underdeveloped world?
Seemingly, the specimen work "Young Goodman Brown" has no economic implications, but an eco-
nomically oriented discussion might take the following turns:
"Young Goodman Brown" is a fine story just as it is. It deals with the false values instilled by
the skewed acceptance of sin-dominated religion, but it overlooks the economic implications of
this situation. One suspects that the real story in the little world of Goodman Brown's Salem
should be about survival and the disruption that an alienated member of society can produce.
After Brown's condemnation and distrust of others force him into his own shell of sick imagina-
tion, Hawthorne does not consider how such a disaffected character would injure the
economic and public life of the town. Consider this, just for a moment: Why would the people
from whom Brown recoils in disgust want to deal with him in business or personal matters?
Would they want to follow his opinion in town meetings on crucial issues of public concern and
investment? Would his preoccupation with sin and damnation make him anything more than a
horror in his domestic life? Would his wife, Faith, be able to discuss household management
with him, or how to take care of the children? All these questions of course are pointed toward
another story-a story that Hawthorne did not write. They also indicate the shortcomings of
Hawthorne's approach, because it is clear the major result of Young Goodman Brown's selfish
preoccupation with evil would be a serious disruption of the economic and political affairs of
his small community.
The scientific study of the mind is a product of psychodynamic theory as established by Sigmund
Freud (1856-1939) and of the psychoanalytic method practiced by his followers. Psychoanalysis
provided a new key to the understanding of character by claiming that behavior was caused by
hidden and unconscious motives and drives. It was greeted as a virtual revelation, and not
surprisingly it had a profound effect on twentieth-century literature.
In addition, its popularity produced a psychological/ psychoanalytic approach to criticism.
Some critics use the approach to explain fictional characters, as in the landmark interpretation by
Freud and Ernest Jones that Shakespeare's Hamlet suffers from the "Oedipus Complex." Still other
critics use it as a way of analyzing authors and the artistic process. For example, John Livingston
Lowes's The Road to Xanadu presents a detailed examination of the mind, reading, and neuroses of
Coleridge, the author of "'Kubla Khan."'
Critics using the psychoanalytic approach treat literature somewhat like information about
patients in therapy In the work itself, what are the obvious and hidden motives that cause a
character's behavior and speech? How much background (childhood trauma, adolescent memories,
etc.) does the author reveal about a character? How purposeful is this information with regard to the
character's psychological condition? How much is important in analyzing and understanding the
In the consideration of authors, critics utilizing the psychoanalytic mode consider questions
like these: What particular life experiences explain characteristic subjects or preoccupations? Was
the author-'s life happy? miserable? upsetting? solitary? social? Can the death of someone in the
author's family be associated with melancholy situations in that author's work? (All eleven of the
brothers and sisters of the English poet Thomas Gray, for example, died before reaching adulthood.
Gray was the only one to survive. In his poetry, Gray often deals with death, and he is therefore
considered as one of the "Graveyard School" of eighteenth-century poets. A psychoanalytical critic
might make much of this connection.)
At the end of "Young Goodman Brown," Hawthorne's major character is no longer capable of
normal existence. His nightmare should be read as a symbol of what in reality would have
been lifelong mental subjection to the type of puritanical religion that emphasizes sin and guilt.
Such preoccupation with sin is no hindrance to psychological health if the preoccupied people
are convinced that God forgives them and grants them mercy. In their dealings with others,
they remain healthy as long as they believe that other people have the same sincere trust in
divine forgiveness. If their own faith is short and uncertain, however, and they cannot believe
in forgiveness, then they are likely to project their own guilt-really a form of personal terror-into
others. They remain conscious of their own sins, but they find it easy to claim that others are
sinful-even those who are spiritually spotless, and even their own family, who should be
dearest to them. When this process of projection occurs, such people have created the
rationale of condemning others because of their own guilt. The cost they pay is a life of gloom,
a fate that Hawthorne makes for Goodman Brown after the nightmare about demons in human
The archetypal approach, derived from the work of the Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung 0 875-1961),
presupposes that human life is built up out of patterns, or archetypes ("first molds" or "first patterns"),
that are similar throughout various cultures and historical times. The approach is similar to the struc-
turalist analysis of literature, for both approaches stress the connections that may be discovered in
literature written in different times and in vastly different locations in the world.
In literary evaluation, the archetypal approach is used to support the claim that the very best
literature is grounded in archetypal patterns. The archetypal critic therefore looks for archetypes such
as God's creation of human beings, the sacrifice of a hero, or the search for paradise. How does an
individual story, poem, or play fit into any of the archetypal patterns? What truths does this correlation
provide (particularly truths that cross historical, national, and cultural lines)? How closely does the
work fit the archetype? What variations may be seen? What meaning or meanings do the connections
The most tenuous aspect of archetypal criticism is Jung-s assertion that the recurring
patterns provide evidence for a "universal human consciousness" that all of us, by virtue of our
humanity, still retain in our minds and in our very blood.
Not all critics accept the hypothesis of a universal human consciousness, but they
nevertheless consider the approach important for comparisons and contrasts (see Chapter 13). Many
human situations, such as adolescence, dawning love, the search for success, the reconciliation with
one's mother and father, and the encroachment of age and death, are similar in structure and may be
analyzed as archetypes. For example, the following situations may be seen as a pattern or archetype
of initiation: A young man discovers the power of literature and understanding ("On First Looking into
Chapman's Homer"); a man determines the importance of truth and fidelity amidst uncertainty ("Dover
Beach"); a man and woman fall in love despite their wishes to remain independent (The Bear); a
woman gains strength and integrity because of previously unrealized inner resources ("The
Necklace"). The archetypal approach encourages the analysis of variations on the same theme, as in
Glaspell's Trifles, when the two women develop their impromptu cover-up of the crime (one sort of
initiation) and also begin to assert their freedom of thought and action independent of their husbands
In the sense that Brown undergoes a change from psychological normality to rigidity, the story
is a reverse archetype of the initiation ritual. According to the archetype of successful initiation,
initiates seek to demonstrate their worthiness to become ful.1-fledged members of society.
Telemachus in Homer's Odyssey, for example, is a young man who in the course of the epic
goes through the initiation rituals of travel, discussion, and battle. But in "Young Goodman
Brown" we see initiation in reverse, for just as there is an archetype of successful initiation,
Brown's initiation leads him into failure. In the private areas of life on which happiness
depends he falls short. He sees evil in his fellow villagers, condemns his own minister, and
shrinks even from his own wife. His life is one of despair and gloom. His suspicions are those
of a Puritan of long ago, but the timeliness of Hawthorne's story is that the archetype of
misunderstanding and condemnation has not changed. Today's headlines of n-dsery and war
are produced by the same kind of intolerance that is exhibited by Goodman Brown.
The Deconstructionist approach-which Deconstructionists explain not as an approach but rather as a
performance-was developed by the French critic Jacques Derrida (b. 1930). In the 1970s and 1980s it
became a major but also controversial mode of criticism. As a literary theory, Deconstructionism pro-
duces a type of analysis that stresses ambiguity and contradiction.
A major principle of Deconstructionism is that Western thought has been logocentric; that is,
Western philosophers have assumed that central truth is knowable and entire. The Deconstructionist
view is that there is no central truth because circumstances and time, which are changeable and
sometimes arbitrary, govern the world of the intellect. This analysis leads to the declaration "All
interpretation is misinterpretation." That is, literary works cannot be encapsulated as organically
unified entireties, and therefore there is not one correct interpretation but only interpretations, each
one possessing its own validity.
In "deconstructing" a work, therefore, the Deconstructionist critic raises questions about what
other critics have claimed about the work: Is a poem accepted as a model of classicism? Then it also
exhibits qualities of romanticism. Is a story about a young Native American's flight from school com-
monly taken as a criticism of modem urban life? Then it may also be taken as a story of the failure of
youth. In carrying out such criticism, Deconstructionist critics place heavy emphasis on the ideas
contained in words such as ambivalence, discrepancy, enigma, uncertainty, delusion, indecision, and
lack of resolution, among others.
The Deconstructionist attack on "correct," "privileged," or "accepted" readings is also related
to the principle that language, and therefore literature, is unstable. "Linguistic instability" means that
the full understanding of words is never exact because there is a never-ending play between the
words in a text and their many shades of meaning, including possible future meanings. That is, the
words do not remain constant and produce a definite meaning, but instead call forth the possibility of
"infinite substitutions" of meaning. Each work of literature is therefore ambiguous and uncertain
because its full meaning is constantly being deferred. This infinite play or semantic tension renders
language unstable and makes correct or accepted readings impossible.
It is fair to state that Deconstructionism, among all the literary theories, has received intense
criticism that has sometimes bordered on discrediting the theory entirely A number of critics find that
the position is elusive and vague. They grant that literary works are often ambiguous, uncertain, and
apparently contradictory, but explain that the cause of these conditions is not linguistic instability but
rather authorial intention. They also point out that the Deconstructionist linguistic analysis is derivative
and misunderstood, and that it does not support Deconstructionist assertions about linguistic
instability. Critics also draw attention to the contradiction that Deconstructionism cannot follow its
major premise about there being no "privileged readings" because it must recognize the privileged
readings in order to invalidate or "subvert" them.
There are many uncertainties in the details of "Young Goodman Brown." If one starts with the
stranger on the path, one might conclude that he could be Brown's father, because he
recognizes Brown immediately and speaks to him jovially. On the other hand, the stranger
could be the devil (he is recognized as such by Goody Cloyse) because of his wriggling
walking stick. After disappearing, the stranger also takes on the characteristics of an
omniscient cult leader, because at the Satanic celebration he knows all the secret sins
committed by Brown's neighbors and the community of greater New England. Additionally, he
might represent a perverted conscience whose aim is to mislead and befuddle people by
steering them into the holier-than-thou judgmentalism that Brown adopts. This method would
be truly diabolical-to use religion in order to bring people to their own damnation. That the
stranger is an evil force is therefore clear, but the pathways of his evil are not as clear. He
seems to work his mission of damnation by reaching souls like that of Goodman Brown
through means ordinarily attributed to conscience. If the stranger rep-resents a Satanic
conscience, what are we to suppose that Hawthorne is asserting about what is considered real
The theory of Reader-Response is rooted in phenomenology, a branch of philosophy that deals with
"the understanding of how things appear." The phenomenological idea of knowledge is that reality is
to be found not in the external world itself but rather in the mental perception of externals. That is, all
that we human beings can know-actual knowledge-is our collective and personal understanding of the
world and our conclusions about it.
As a consequence of the phenomenological concept, Reader-Response theory holds that the
reader is a necessary third party in the author-text-reader relationship that constitutes the literary
work. The work, in other words, is not fully created until readers make a transaction with it by assimi-
lating it and actualizing it in the fight of their own knowledge and experience. The representative
questions of the theory are these: What does this work mean to me, mi my present intellectual and
moral makeup? What particular aspects of my life may help me understand and appreciate the work?
How can the work improve my understanding and widen my insights? How can my increasing
understanding help me understand the work more deeply? The theory is that the free interchange or
transaction that such questions bring about leads toward interest and growth so that readers may
assimilate literary works and accept them as part of their lives.
As an initial way of reading, the Reader-Response method may be personal and anecdotal. In
addition, by stressing response rather than interpretation, one of the leading exponents of the method
(Stanley Fish) has raised the extreme question about whether texts, by themselves, have objective
identity. These aspects have been cited as both a shortcoming and an inconsequentiality of the
It is therefore important to stress that the Reader-Response theory is open. It permits
beginning readers to bring their own personal reactions to literature, but it also aims at increasing the
discipline and skills of readers. The more that readers bring to literature through lifelong interests and
disciplined studies, the more "competent" and comprehensive their responses will be. With
cumulative experience, the disciplined reader will habitually adjust to new works and respond to them
with increasing skill. If the works require special knowledge in fields such as art, politics, science,
philosophy, religion, or morality, then competent readers will possess such knowledge or seek it out,
and utilize it in improving their responses. Also, because students experience many similar
intellectual and cultural disciplines, it is logical to conclude that responses wil.1 tend not to diverge but
rather to coalesce; agreements result not from personal but from cultural similarities. The Reader--
Response theory, then, can and should be an avenue toward informed and detailed understanding of
literature, but the initial emphasis is the transaction between readers and literary works.
"Young Goodman Brown" is a worrisome story because it shows so disturbingly that good
intentions may cause harmful results. I think that a person with too high a set of expectations
is ripe for disillusionment just as Goodman Brown is. When people don't measure up to this
person's standard of perfection, they can be thrown aside as though they are worthless. They
may be good, but their past mistakes make it impossible for the person with high expectations
to endure them. I have seen this situation occur among some of my friends and
acquaintances, particularly in romantic relationships. Goodman Brown makes the same kind of
misjudgment, expecting perfection and turning sour when he learns about flaws. It is not that
he is not a good man, because he is shown at the start as a person of belief and stability. He
uncritically accepts his nightmare revelation that everyone else is evil (including his parents),
however, and he finally distrusts everyone because of this enduring suspicion. He cannot look
at his neighbors without avoiding them like an "anathema," and he turns away from his own
wife "without a greeting" (paragraph 70). Brown's problem is that he equates being human with
being unworthy. By such a distorted standard of judgment, all of us fail, and that is what makes
the story so disturbing.
Analyzing Tone or Attitude in Literature
An analysis of tone will depend on our precise and accurate understanding of the author’s attitude
(1) the subject
(2) the audience
Note that in more complex passages the author will have a distinct tone for his subject and another
tone for his audience.
DICTION: The important and individual words the author uses
IMAGES: The word pictures created by groups of words
DETAILS: Often confused with images, these are more precisely facts, and are notable
not only for what is included but what is purposefully omitted
LANGUAGE: This term describes the characteristics of the body of words used: terms
such as slang, scholarly, and jargon denote language
STRUCTURE: Expressed in its most elemental form, this notes that short sentences are
often emotional or assertive and that longer sentences move toward more
reasonable or even scholarly intent
Tone Vocabulary Words
satiric pedantic colloquial
whimsical indignant compassionate
dramatic bantering impartial
learned flippant insipid
informative condescending pretentious
somber patronizing vibrant
urgent facetious irreverent
confident clinical sentimental
mock-heroic mock-serious moralistic
objective inflammatory complimentary
diffident benevolent contemptuous
ironic burlesque sympathetic
didactic fanciful taunting
petty detached concerned
factual cynical angry
restrained incisive turgid
elegiac allusive sardonic
disdainful scornful contentious
lugubrious effusive insolent
More Tone Words
angry sad sentimental
sharp cold fanciful
upset urgent sympathetic
silly joking apologetic
boring poignant humorous
afraid happy hollow
joyful sweet vexed
tired bitter dreamy
restrained proud dramatic
confused childish peaceful
mocking nostalgic objective
zealous vibrant frivolous
audacious shocking somber
giddy provocative irreverent
benevolent seductive candid
More Tone Vocabulary
Positive tone/attitude words
Negative tone/attitude words
exuberant enthusiastic complimentary
optimistic loving passionate
sympathetic compassionate proud
angry disgusted outraged accusing condemnatory
furious wrathful bitter inflammatory irritated
scornful disdainful contemptuous sarcastic cynical
critical facetious patronizing satiric condescending
sardonic mock-heroic bantering irreverent mock-serious
taunting insolent pompous ironic
somber elegiac melancholic sad disturbed
mournful solemn serious apprehensive concerned
fearful despairing gloomy sober foreboding
hopeless staid resigned
Neutral tone/attitude words
formal objective incredulous nostalgic ceremonial
candid shocked reminiscent restrained clinical
balked sentimental detached objective disbelieving
questioning urgent instructive matter-of-fact admonitory
learned factual didactic informative authoritative
1. accusatory - charging of wrong doing
2. apathetic- indifferent due to lack of energy or concern
3. awe- solemn wonder
4. bitter- exhibiting strong animosity as a result of pain of grief
5. cynical- questions the basic sincerity and goodness of people
6. condescension; condescending- a feeling of superiority
7. callous- unfeeling, insensitive to feelings fathers
8. contemplative- studying, thinking, reflecting on an issue
9. critical- finding fault
10. choleric- hot-tempered; easily angered
11. contemptuous- showing or feeling that something is worthless; lacking respect
12. caustic- intense use of sarcasm; stinging, biting
13. conventional- lacking spontaneity, -originality and individuality
14. disdainful- scornful
15 didactic- author attempts to educate or instruct the reader
16. derision- ridiculing, mocking
17. earnest- intense a sincere state of mind
18. erudite- learned, polished, scholarly
19. fanciful- using the imagination
20. forthright- directly frank without hesitation
21. gloomy- darkness, sadness, rejection
22. haughty- proud and vain to point of arrogance
23. indignant- marked by anger aroused by injustice
24. intimate- very familiar
25. judgmental- authoritative and often critical opinion
26. jovial- happy
27. lyrical- expressing a poet's inner feelings; emotional; full of images, song-like
28. matter-of-fact- accepting of conditions; not fanciful or emotional
29, mocking- treating with contempt or ridicule
30. morose- gloomy, sullen, surly, despondent
31. malicious- purposely hurtful
32. objective- an unbiased view
33. optimistic- hopeful; cheerful
34. obsequious- polite and obedient-, for hope of gain or favor
35. patronizing- air of condescension
36. pessimistic- seeing the worst side of things
37. quizzical- odd, eccentric, amusing
38. ribald- offensive in speech, gesture
39. reverent- treating a subject with honor, respect
40. ridiculing- slightly contemptuous banter
41. reflective--- illustrating innermost
42. sarcastic- sneering, caustic
43. sardonic- scornfully and bitterly sarcastic
44. sincere- without deceit or pretense, genuine
45. solemn- deeply earnest, grove
46. sanguineous- optimistic, cheerful
47. whimsical- odd, queer, fantastic
amiable frivolous patronizing
complacent humorous passive
ecstatic authoritative vicious
outraged bleak inventive
obnoxious threatening surreptitious
laconic bored impious
lethargic shocked superior
sardonic confused satiric
exuberant baffled jealous
sad explosive embarrassed
melancholy confident confident
revengeful angry chauvinistic
innocent boring irritated
aggressive concerned vexed
benevolent bewildered overwhelmed
giddy condescending remote
disheartened curious lamely
audacious strong hypocritical
presumptuous obsessive petulant
passionate shrewd depressed
contented critical discouraged
humble disbelief caustic
paranoid fearful critical
nervous timid seductive
evil meek weary
malicious impotent banal
dominating envious mystical
domineering cautious persuasive
stem perturbed gentle
sultry loving dreamy
alarmed pitiful majestic
Denotations and Connotations
simple, straightforward, direct, unambiguous, candid
indirect, understated, elusive, allusive
complicated, complex, difficult
admiring, worshiping, approving
complimentary, proud, effusive
disliking, abhorring, contemptuous
strident, harsh, acerbic, angry, outraged, violent
forceful, powerful, confident
ironic, sardonic, sarcastic, mocking, sly, wry
bitter, grim, cynical
interested, sympathetic, pitiful
hollow, detached, cold, obdurate
tired, boring, uninterested
indifferent, unconcerned, disinterested, apathetic
humorous, playful, joking, frivolous
flippant, irreverent, facetious
impish, silly, sophomoric, childish
resigned, calm, tranquil, quiet, peaceful, reticent
sad, upset, depressed, melancholy, despairing
afraid, fearful, horrific, terrified, panicked
wistful, nostalgic, sentimental
solemn, serious, somber
apologetic, penitent, ignominious
recalcitrant, stubborn, rebellious
apprehensive, anxious, pensive
thoughtful, dreamy, fanciful
vexed, uncertain, confused, ambivalent
excited, exhilarated, exuberant
ardent, fervent, zealous
happy, contented, ecstatic, joyful, giddy
incredulous, questioning, skeptical, dubious
insistent, urgent, pressing
pertinent, pointed, incisive, poignant
exhortatory, admonishing, censorious, damning
condescending, arrogant, haughty, dogmatic
elevated, grand, lofty, bombastic, pretentious
oratorical, dramatic, melodramatic
scornful, disdainful, supercilious
audacious, bold, impudent, insolent
alluring, provocative, seductive
shocking, offensive, reprehensible, lurid
Word Choice Controls Tone
Dislike resent, lament, hate, scorn, disapprove, decry, deplore, oppose, regret
Odd bizarre, singular, outlandish, curious, unusual, extraordinary, remarkable,
noteworthy, out of the way, strange
Thrifty saving, tight, miserly, frugal, economical, careful, thrifty, budget-minded,
near, prudent, provident, mean
Confess admit, acknowledge, concede, give in, grant, come clean, own, allow
Amateur buff, enthusiast, nut, fan, hobbyist, connoisseur
Words Describe Language
jargon esoteric figurative vulgar
connotative bombastic scholarly plain
abstruse insipid literal grotesque
precise colloquial concrete pedantic
artificial culture euphemistic detached
picturesque pretentious emotional homespun
sensuous learned provincial exact
symbolic trite poetic simple
obscure moralistic idiomatic precise
slang concrete exact
Archetype-- Archetypal Criticism
Term from criticism that accepts Jung's idea of recurring patterns of situation, character, or symbol
existing universally and instinctively in the collective unconscious of man.
Personal unconscious vs. Collective unconscious
Sigmund Freud-- Personal experience that has been forgotten or repressed.
Carl Jung-- Collective unconscious has never been conscious but is the part we share with all
humanity. Proof of its existence can be found in the study of the commonality of: trances, dreams,
delusions, myths, religion, and stories.
I. The Quest-- This motif describes the search for someone or some talisman which, when found
and brought back, will restore fertility to a wasted land, the desolation of which is mirrored by a
leader's illness and disability. Jessie L Seston's From Ritual to Romance traces one facet of
this archetype through the quests of Gawain, Perceval, and Galahad for the Holy Grail. (e.g.
The Lion King, Excalibur, Idylls of the King.)
2. The Task-- To save the kingdom, to wind the fair lady, to identify himself so that he may
reassume his rightful position, the hero must perform some nearly superhuman deed. NOT
THE SAME AS THE QUEST--A FUNCTION OF THE ULTIMATE GOAL, THE RESTORATION
OF FERTILITY. (Arthur pulls Excalibur from stone, Grendel slain by Beowulf, Frodo must arrive
3. The Initiation--- This usually takes the form of an initiation into adult life. The adolescent comes
into his\her maturity with new awareness and problems along with new hope for the community.
This awakening is often the climax of the story. (Huckleberry Finn, Stephen Dedalus, King
Arthur, the hobbits.).
4. The Journey-- The journey sends the hero in search for some truth or information necessary to
restore fertility to the kingdom. Usually the hero descends into a real or psychological hell and
is forced to discover the blackest truths, quite often concerning his faults. once the hero is at
this lowest point, he must accept personal responsibility to return to the world of the living. A
second use of this pattern os the depiction of a limited number of travelers on a sea voyage,
bus ride or any other trip for the purpose of isolating them and using them as microcosm of
society. (e.g. The Odyssey, The Canterbury Tales, The Aeneid, The Fellowship of the Rings.)
5. The Fall-- This archetype describes a descent from a higher to a lower state of being. The
experience involves a defilement and/or loss of innocence and bliss. The fall is often
accompanied by expulsion form a kind of paradise as penalty for disobedience and moral
transgression. (Adam and Eve, Lancelot and Guinevere, Paradise Lost.)
6. Death and Rebirth-- The most common of all situational archetypes, this motif grows out of the
parallel between the cycle of nature and the cycle of life. Thus, morning and springtime
represent birth, youth, or rebirth; evening and winter suggest old age or death.
7. Nature vs., Mechanistic World-- Nature is good while technology and society are often evil. (e.g.
Walden, Mad Max, The Terminator.)
8. Battle between Good and Evil-- obviously the battle between two primal forces. Mankind shows
eternal optimism in the continual portrayal of good triumphing over evil despite great odds. (e.g.
The forces of Sauron and those of Middle Earth in The Lord of the Rings, Satan and God in
Paradise Lost, any western, most cartoons)
9. The Unhealable Wound-- This wound is either physical or psychological and cannot be healed
fully. This wound also indicates a loss of innocence. These wounds always ache and often
drive the sufferer to desperate measures. (e.g. Frodo's shoulder, Lancelot's madness, Ahab's
10. The Ritual-- The actual ceremonies the initiate experiences that will mark his rite of passage
into another state. The importance of ritual rites cannot be over stressed as they provide clear
sign post for character’s role in society as well as our own position in this world. (e.g. weddings,
11. The Magic Weapon-- This symbolizes the extraordinary quality of the hero because no one
else can wield the weapon of use it to its full potential. It is usually given be a mentor figure
(Excalibur, Odysseus' bow, Thor's hammer)
The collective unconscious makes certain associations between the outside world and psychic
experiences. These associations become enduring and are passed from one generation to the next.
Some of the more common archetypal associations are as follows:
1. Light vs.. Darkness-- Light usually suggests hope, renewal, or intellectual illumination; darkness
implies the unknown, ignorance, or despair.
2. Water vs.. Desert-- Because water is necessary to life and growth, it commonly appears as a
birth or rebirth symbol. Water is used in baptismal services, which solemnizes spiritual births.
Similarly, the appearance of rain in a work of literature can suggest a character's spiritual birth.
(e.g. The Wasteland, the sea and river images in The Odyssey)
3. Heaven vs. Hell-- Man has traditionally associated parts of the universe not accessible to him
with the dwelling places of the primordial forces that govern his world. The skies and mountain
tops house his gods; the bowels of the earth contain the diabolic forces that inhabit his
universe. (Paradise Lost, The Divine Comedy.)
4. Innate Wisdom vs. Educated Stupidity-- Some characters exhibit wisdom and understanding of
situations instinctively as opposed to those supposedly in charge. Loyal retainers often exhibit
this wisdom as they accompany them on the journey. (e.g. Sam from The Lord of the Rings,
5. Haven vs. Wilderness--- Places of safety contrast sharply against the dangerous wilderness.
Heroes are often sheltered for a time to regain health and resources. (e.g. the Batcave,
Camelot, Rivendale, the Crystal Cave)
6. Supernatural Intervention--- The gods intervene on the side of the hero or sometimes against
him. (e.g. The Odyssey, The Lord of the Ring, The Bible)
7. Fire vs. Ice-- Fire represents knowledge, light, life, rebirth while ice like desert represents
ignorance, darkness, sterility, death. (e.g. the phoenix, Dante's The Inferno)
It should be noted that the primitive mind tends not to make fine discriminations but thinks rather in
terms of polarities. Thus, when archetypes appear in a work of literature, they usually evoke their
primordial opposites. Good is in conflict with evil; birth symbols are juxtaposed with death images;
depictions of heaven are countered by descriptions of hell; and for every Penelope, there is usually a
Circe to balance the archetypal scales.
The Hero-- Lord Raglan in The Hero: A Study in Tradition. Myth and Drama, contends that this
archetype is so well defined that the life of the protagonist can be clearly divided into a series of
well-marked adventures which strongly suggest a ritualistic pattern. Raglan finds that traditionally the
hero's mother is a virgin, the circumstances of this conception are unusual, and at birth some attempt
is made to kill him. He is however, spirited away and reared by foster parents. We know almost
nothing of his childhood, but upon reaching manhood he returns to his future kingdom. After-a victory
over the king or a wild beast, he marries a princess, becomes king, reigns uneventfully, but later loses
favor with the gods. He is then driven from the city after which he meets a mysterious death, often at
the top of a hill. His body is not buried, but nevertheless, he has one of more holy sepulchers.
Characters who exemplify this archetype to a greater or lesser extent are Oedipus, Theseus,
Romulus, Perseus, Jason, Dionysus, Joseph, Moses, Elijah, Jesus Christ, Siegfried, Arthur, Robin
Hood, Beowulf, Frodo.
Poetry Analysis: Covering all of the Basics
Element Read for
Voice: Speaker/Tone Subject, situation, speaker(s), tone(s)—shifting tone, ironic tone, multiple
Describe the speaker and explain his attitude (tone) toward the poem.
Syntax --grammatical sense
--striking or irregular sentence structure, sentence length, or
--use of dashes
Diction --unusual words
--highly precise words
--puns (double denotations)
--highly CONNOTATIVE words
What is revealed about the speaker through his diction?
Imagery --various types used
--emotional impact of imagery
--emotional content of images
--patterns of a single image or type
--is some imagery used metaphorically?
Figurative Language --images used metaphorically or symbolically (as similes, metaphors,
--something talked about in terms of something else
--identify the literal and figurative components of all of the implied
--alliteration, assonance, etc.
--identify places where the poem’s music is most expressive
--look for contrasts in sound
--what is the cumulative effect of sound in the poem?
Rhythm --significance of the pace in the lines
--noticeable shifts or breaks in the pace of the meter
--how does the rhythm reflect the poem’s content?
Structure --type of form
--open (how is the poem organically structured? What devices lend
--closed (identify form—sonnet, etc.)
--how does the form shape the thought and emotion?
Justify why the poem is structure the way it is (how many stanzas and why,
All of the above elements contribute to the reader’s appreciation of theme and style in a poem.
TP-CASTT: A Method for Poetry Analysis
Title -- Examine the title before reading the poem. Consider connotations.
Paraphrase -- Translate the poem into your own words (literal/denotation). Resist the urge to jump to
interpretation. A failure to understand what happens literally inevitably leads to an interpretive
Look for: Syntactical units (complete sentences rather than line by line)
Enjambment vs. end-stopped lines
Connotation -- Examine the poem for meaning beyond the literal.
Look for: diction
imagery (especially metaphor, simile, personification)
irony -- paradox, understatement, oxymoron
effect of sound devices (alliteration, onomatopoeia, assonance, consonance,
Attitude -- tone: Examine both the speaker's and the poet's attitudes. Remember, don’t confuse the
author with the persona.
Look for: Speakers attitude toward self, other characters, and the subject
Attitudes of characters other than speaker
Poet’s attitude toward speaker, other characters, subject and finally toward the
Shifts -- Note shifts in speaker, attitudes
Look for: Occasion of poem (time and place)
Key words (e.g. but, yet)
Punctuation (dashes, periods, colons ...)
Changes in line and/or stanza length
lrony (sometimes irony hides shifts)
Effect of structure on meaning
Title -- Examine the title again, this time on an interpretive level.
Theme-First list what the poem is about (subjects); then determine what the poet is saying about
each of those subjects (theme). Remember, theme must be expressed as a complete sentence.
Film Terms Glossary
CINEMATOGRAPHY The art or technique of motion-picture photography.
CLOSE-UP A SHOT that shows a magnified view of a person or object. A close-up of a character
usually shows only his or her head.
COMPOSITION The use of lighting, camera angles, and arrangements of objects and characters
within a film frame to achieve particular effects.
CUT An abrupt transition from one SHOT to another.
DEEP-FOCUS SHOT A SHOT filmed in such a way that all the objects and people in the scene are in
focus, no matter how close to or far away from the camera they are.
DISSOLVE A transitional technique in which one scene or image FADES out as another fades in, so
that the first seems to disappear as the second appears.
DOCUMENTARY A nonfiction film focusing on a historical, scientific, social, or environmental subject.
The purpose of a documentary may be to educate, to persuade, or to provide insight into the world in
which we live.
DOLLY SHOT or TRACKING SHOT A shot that moves toward or away from a person or object. Also
a shot that moves alongside a moving figure or object. These effects are achieved by pushing or
pulling the camera on a dolly (DOLLY SHOT) or on a vehicle that runs on tracks (TRACKING SHOT).
See also ZOOM SHOT.
EDITING The arrangement of a number of SHOTS in sequence to form a complete film.
ESTABLISHING SHOT A SHOT that serves to introduce viewers to the location of a scene, usually
by presenting a wide view of an area. See also LONG SHOT or EXTREME LONG SHOT.
EXTREME LONG SHOT A SHOT in which a large area, such as a vast desert or a city skyline, is
filmed from a great distance to provide a panoramic view of it. See also ESTABLISHING SHOT
FADE A technique in which a scene or image seems to disappear gradually into black (fade out) or to
appear gradually out of black (fade in).
FREEZE-FRAME An effect that stops (freezes) the motion in a scene, so that the image on screen
looks like a still photograph.
HAND-HELD SHOT A SHOT in which the camera is held and moved by its operator instead of being
attached to a mechanical support. Often resulting in unsteady images and jerky camera movements,
this technique is sometimes used to film a POINT-OF-VIEW SHOT or to create a spontaneous, free
style in a film.
HIGH-ANGLE SHOT A SHOT that shows a scene from above.
HIGH-KEY LIGHTING A style of lighting in which all the objects and people in a scene are brightly
and evenly lit, with few conspicuous shadows.
LONG SHOT A SHOT that provides a wide view of a scene, showing many objects and/or people at
once. See also ESTABLISHING SHOT and EXTREME LONG SHOT.
LOW-ANGLE SHOT A SHOT filmed from below eye level.
LOW-KEY LIGHTING A style of lighting characterized by strong contrasts between light and dark,
pronounced shadows, and often atmospheric pools of light.
MEDIUM SHOT A SHOT that shows a view wider than a CLOSE-UP but less wide than a LONG
SHOT. A medium shot of one or more characters usually shows them from the knees or waist up.
MONTAGE A succession of SHOTS, often short and lacking dialogue, that is intended to create a
particular effect or convey a particular meaning. In the film Forrest Gump, for example, the montage
showing Forrest Gump running across .America conveys the passage of time and Gump's growing
PAN A SHOT that scans across a location (left to right or vice versa). A pan is achieved by rotating a
camera horizontally on a stationary base.
POINT-OF-VIEW SHOT A SHOT that shows what a character sees.
REACTION SHOT A SHOT that shows a character reacting to another character's dialogue or
SHOOTING SCRIPT A script that contains not only dialogue and descriptions of action, but also
detailed technical instructions for all of a film's SHOTS.
SHOT The continuous recording of a scene or image, from the time the camera starts to the time it
STORYBOARD A device sometimes used to plan the shooting of a film and to help the filmmaker
envision what the finished product will look like. It consists of a sequence of sketches showing what
will appear in the film's SHOTS, often with explanatory notes and dialogue written beside or
SUPERIMPOSITION An effect in which two or more SHOTS appear on the screen at the same time,
creating the appearance of "layers" of images.
THREE SHOT A SHOT that shows three characters.
TILT A SHOT that scans a location with an upward or downward movement. A tilt is achieved by
moving the camera vertically on a stationary base.
TWO SHOT A SHOT that shows two characters.
VOICEOVER Narration, commentary, or dialogue spoken by a character or person who does not
appear in the scene it accompanies.
WIPE A transitional technique in which a line moving across the screen appears to "wipe away" one
scene or image, replacing it with another.
ZOOM SHOT A SHOT in which an adjustable camera lens is used to provide an increasingly close
view of the subject being filmed (zoom in) or an increasingly distant view of the subject (zoom out). In
a zoom shot, unlike a DOLLY SHOT, the camera itself is not moved.
Close Reading Sentence Stems
1. What is the author's attitude toward the subject of this passage?
The author's attitude toward the subject is ......
2. The passage is about ......
3. The phrase “___” means ......
4. The style of the passage is best characterized as paired adjectives or paired tone nouns such as
a) informal and colloquial
b) light and uncomplicated
c) ironic and sarcastic
d) complex and formal
e) pedantic and ornate
5. Which of the following best summarizes the main point in …?
What is the main point in ............... ? (the passage, the second paragraph, etc.)
6. Which of the following best describes the result of .. ?
7. Which of the following best restates the meaning of .. ?
8. Which of the following best defines the phrase... ?
9. Which of the following best states the speaker's purpose in lines ... ?
10. Which of the following best restates the meaning of the phrase ... ?
11. The allusion ... best reflects the thought that...
12. The tone of the passage is...
13. Which of the following best defines the word ... as controlled by the context?
14. Which of the following best describes the diction and style of the passage?
15. In lines..., the speaker asserts that...
16. ...is described as ... because it...
17. The structure of the third sentence (lines ... ) is marked by...
18. In sentences ... the speaker develops or implies contrasts between all of the following EXCEPT...
19. Which of the following best describes the effect the speaker achieves by pairing the quotations
from ... ?
What is the effect of .. ?
20. Which of the following best describes the dominant technique used in...
21. In lines... "---" is the metaphorical way of saying...
22. Juxtaposing ... and ... serves the purpose of.. .
23. The speaker accomplishes all of the following EXCEPT...
24. The choice of words in... shows that the speaker believes that...
25. In lines ... the speaker depicts himself as...
26. The shift in point of view from ... has the effect of…
27. The theme in the second paragraph involves which of the following?
28. The phrase... signals a shift from ... to...
29. The statement ... is best described as which of the following?
30. The... is represented as ... because...
31. The syntax of the sentence in lines... serves to...
32. Which of the following best describes what... symbolizes?
33. The speaker's attitude toward... is best described as one of…
34. In ... the author asserts that...
35. The term... conveys the speaker's belief that...
36. The speaker assumes that the audience's attitude toward... will be one of…
37. In the first paragraph, the speaker seeks to interest us in the subject of the discussion by
38. It can be inferred by... that...
39. The second sentence is unified by metaphorical references pertaining to...
40. The speaker's mention of ... is appropriate to the development of the argument as an illustration
41. As the sentence in lines... constructed, ...is parallel to which of the following?
42. It can be inferred from the description of.. that the following qualities are valued by the speaker...
43. According to the passage, .... is ... because...
44. In the context of the passage, . - - is best interpreted as...
45. Which of the following best describes the sentence...?
46. The antecedent for "it" in the clause ... is...
47. The type of argument employed by ... is most similar to which of the following?
48. The speaker describes ... in an order best described as...
49. It can be inferred that...
50. The pattern of exposition exemplified in the passage is best described as...
51. The point of view indicated in… is that of …
52. A major purpose of the statement... is to...
53. The atmosphere established in the fourth sentence is mainly one of…
54. Despite its length, the fourth sentence... remains coherent chiefly because of its use of…
55. All of the following qualities are present in the scene described in line... EXCEPT...
56. In the fourth sentence, which of the following moat suggests a humorous attitude on the part of
57. In line ... the use of ... instead of … accomplishes which of the following?
58. In line ... the author emphasizes ... because...
59. The passage's use of… suggests most strongly that...
60. The ... referred to in lines ... is called ... because...
61. All of the following may be found in the passage EXCEPT...
62. In the first paragraph...
63, What is the function of the three clauses introduced by... in line...
64. The author's discussion ... depends on which of the following?
65. The subject of the sentence in lines ... is...
66. Which of the following is true about the various assertions made in the passage?
67. By ... the author most probably means...
Style Analysis Terminology for the AP Exam
Close Readings of Prose and Poetry Passages
Style: The manner in which ideas are expressed, the combination of distinctive or unique features
characterizing a writer or a person. The term style can classify (Gothic style), or it can evaluate ("The
poor fellow has no style.").
Elements of Style
Detail: Selection of detail is closely aligned with point of view . It includes the facts given as well as
the facts not given. It shows bias, tone, and perspective. It includes the details of narration and of
Diction: Diction is word choice. It is word choice which conveys voice or the author's or character's
personality through the choice of idiom or turn of phrase. Words may be monosyllabic or polysyllabic,
colloquial or formal, anachronistic, concrete or abstract, euphonious or cacophonous. Word choice
also conveys the tone or attitude toward the subject through the connotative meaning of words.
Emphasis: Emphasis is an aspect of language which includes repetition, placement, and preference
in the passage.
Figurative Language: Language which embodies the figures of speech.
Imagery: Imagery includes the detail which is used to create the images or pictures of the passage. It
also includes figurative language and figures of speech such as personification and others. In
addition, imagery is a component of metaphor and symbolism.
Mood or Atmosphere: Mood is a state of mind, the feeling or impression which the reader derives
from the passage. Atmosphere is the direct impression the setting produces on the reader. The terms
mood and atmosphere are closely aligned.
Pace: Pace is the movement of the passage. It is a combination of rhythm, speed, flow, as well as
harmony. Long vowels and soft consonants produce a slow pace; short vowels and hard consonants
produce a fast pace. Punctuation or its lack and conjunctions or their lack produce a fast or slow
Point of View (also called perspective): Point of view is the voice you are hearing in the passage
which can range from a single character, to several, to the author. The point of view might be first
person, third omniscient, or third limited. Point of view involves distinguishing the persona of the
passage or personae as well as any shift in point of view.
Rhetoric or rhetorical devices: Rhetoric historically is the art attributed to the ancients. The aim of
rhetoric was to make language effective. The AP exam uses the word rhetoric to mean language and
rhetorical devices to mean language devices including diction, emphasis, imagery or detail, mood or
atmosphere, point of view, structure or organization, syntax, and tone.
Structure (organization): The structure includes the form of the passage which in prose might be
stream of consciousness or in poetry might be a sonnet, It also includes the methods of organization
of the passage which might range from spatial to associational, etc.
Syntax: Syntax is the sentence structure of the passage, the way in which words are put together (
their arrangement or phrasing) to form meaning. Are the sentences long, short, parallel, balanced,
simple, complex, formal, informal, etc.? It also includes whether the sentence structure relies on
prepositional phrases, verbal phrases, clauses, simple adjectives, simple adverbs, etc. The concept
includes word order, inversion, repetition, parallelism, juxtaposition, balance, use of punctuation, and
Tone (attitude or tone of voice): Tone is the speaker's attitude toward the subject. The speaker can
be a character or the author depending upon the passage and its point of view. The tone can be
playful, ironic, critical, sarcastic, amused, ecstatic, depressed or melancholy, bitter, etc. To identify
tone, the reader must first know the subject and the speaker of the passage.
Analyzing Diction and Imagery in a Passage
Directions: Ideally, students should have two colored markers; however, a pen can be used. Have
students put a square (like a picture frame) around all images (concrete nouns; do not include
abstract nouns which go under diction) in a passage or have them use one color. An image is a
picture that forms in the mind. I have students put all colors under imagery as we speak of color
imagery not color diction. I also have students put all numbers under imagery not diction. Next, have
students put a circle around all words which show an attitude (usually adjectives, verbs, adverbs,
and abstract nouns) or use a second color marker. These are the diction words.
Example: empty nest. Nest is an image word, while empty is a diction word. Empty is an attitude
word because it tells the reader how to view or feel about the nest he visualizes. The attitude words
are diction words and lead the students to tone (defined as the speaker's attitude toward his or her
subject). The reader can only get to tone from diction, not from imagery. Once the words have been
identified, they must be categorized or grouped in a way which makes them meaningful and so
students can talk about kinds of images and types of diction.
Begin with imagery. Have students look for two large categories of images first. Usually
these two categories in a texturally rich passage will be among the following: man and nature; man
and the environment; man and technology; man and man; man and himself; man and time; man and
fate. It is not a coincidence that these categories are also the major conflicts of literature. Next, have
students divide all images into these two categories and then further divide them under each category
as seems appropriate. For example, under nature they might find bird imagery, water imagery, light
and dark imagery; under technology, they might find highway imagery and vehicle imagery such as in
the famous passage from Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath which deals with the turtle crossing the road.
Have them organize all words under these subcategories of imagery. When they have completed this
task, they have both the major imagery of the passage as well as a way to talk about it and more
importantly, the evidence to argue their assertions.
Continue with diction. Have the students organize the diction words they have found into two
major categories such as life and death; empty and full (both of these will work for the "empty nest"
which is actually a phrase from the short story "The Scarlet Ibis.") The categories for diction are
harder for students to see and find, as they represent qualities or conditions. As students find and
name these categories, have them once again place all words under them until they have used up the
diction words. Most of the time an author will actually name his or her tone among the diction words.
When Victor Frankenstein views the destruction of a tree by lightning, Shelley says he felt "horror"
and "delight." Most of the other diction words will organize under one of these two emotional words.
Once again, when students have completed this task, they will have a way to talk about diction and
tone as well as the evidence with which to argue their insights. When students write their assertion
about tone, they will have to identify the speaker ( a character or the author), the subject (of the
passage), and the speaker's attitude toward that subject. Example: Imagery and diction reveal
Victor's horror and delight in the power of lightning he witnesses during a storm.
Figurative language is writing that embodies one or more of the various figures of speech. As such it
encompasses imagery, metaphor, simile, paradox, oxymoron, personification and apostrophe,
hyperbole, and understatement, irony, appeal to the five senses including sound devices like
alliteration, assonance, consonance, and onomatopoeia; additional literary devices like metonymy
and synecdoche, archetypes, and symbols, and allusions. The terms imagery and symbolism are
synonymous, but the AP uses the term imagery.
Students need to find effective ways to group imagery so that they can talk about kinds of images.
Color imagery would be an example. They also need to clearly explain the meaning of all literary
devices and their relevance to meaning, tone, and point of view. Simple identification of the above
figurative language will get them no points on the AP essay tests.
Organization/ Structure In Literature
All good writing has a system of organization or structure including both prose and poetry. In
the Advanced Placement Program, students are asked to master detail, diction, figurative language,
imagery, organization, point of view, tone, and syntax. Organization is most closely allied with syntax
which is sentence structure. Like syntax, organization is sequence, not of words, but of paragraphs or
stanzas. It is a larger unit of development or structure. The following are some of the most commonly
used methods of organization employed by writers of prose or poetry. Organization is sometimes
called the movement of a passage of prose or poetry. Have students find and mark the directional
and sequential prepositions and adverbs of a passage. They may wish to use a different color marker
than they did for diction and imagery. Have them look at the beginning and ending of a passage. Look
for patterns, chronology, and emphasis (repetition) not only of the prepositions and adverbs, but also
of the entire passage (for example: are we outside of a building and then move inside?). Further,
there is also often a shift in the mode of writing (description to narration, narration to description,
description to dialogue, etc.).
1. general to specific (deductive)
2. specific to general (inductive)
3. chronological (time sequence)
4. narrative (order of occurrence or order of telling)
5. associational (one object to another or by memories)
6. movement to lack of movement (storm to calm or calm to storm)
8. sensory ( organized by senses: dark to light or light to dark, etc.)
9. spatial (inside to outside; far to near; top to bottom; upward to downward; fall to rise; flight and
10. comparison and contrast (opposites)
11. fact and example
13. question and answer
14. analogy or imagery ordered
15. cause and effect
16. order of importance (most to least; least to most)
21. dominant impression (to least dominant)
22. abstract to concrete or concrete to abstract
23. past to present or present to past (now to then or then to now)
24. by seasons
25. disorder to order or order to disorder
26. gain to loss or loss to gain
Point of View: Tradition and Conventions
Point of view is a term used to identify the vantagepoint from which the author presents the story.
Point of view is whose voice you the reader are hearing as well as the eyes through which the reader
is viewing the action and the other characters. It could be a character's or the author's. Simply put, it
is the narrator of the story or in the case in which there is no clear narrative character, the author. The
point of view can be biased. A good author deliberately and carefully selects his or her point of view.
The story would change dramatically with. a change in. the point of view. In fact, in longer works, an
author sometimes will change the point of view as in Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury. Have
students identify the pronouns in the passage that lead to point of view.
Point of view divides into several major categories: participant or non-participant; limited or
omniscient; panoramic or scenic; fixed or mobile.
Participant (also called first person point of view)
Pronouns: I, me, my, we, us, our, and names identify the narrator. Students must be able to identify
the first person singular pronouns and the first person plural pronouns.
1. major character as narrator (tells a story chiefly about himself or herself).
2. minor character as narrator (tells a story chiefly about others though he is still a character in the
3. innocent eye narrator: where the narrator may be a child or a disabled person; the narrator is thus
naive. The contrast between what the innocent eye narrator perceives and what the reader
understands may produce an ironic effect.
4. stream of consciousness: an associational free flow of thoughts which represent the mind of the
character is usually first person though it can be third person as well. This is also often called an
5. another type of first person or participant narrator involves different times in a character's life (e.g.
Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird.
Results of this point of view
1. The first person point of view offers immediacy. The reader sees what is perceived by the
2. The first person narrator can approach the fictional characters as closely as one human being
can approach another.
3. The first person narrator can be an eyewitness, observing what other characters say and do.
4. The first person point of view allows the reader to be discerning; the reader must determine
whether the narrator is trustworthy. The reader must be aware of the biases and limitations of the
5. The first person narrator understands other characters only by observing what they say and do.
This narrator can not enter the minds of the other characters and is unable to grasp their inner
6. The first person narrator outlines what that individual observes and feels, and thus the narrator's
conclusions may be inaccurate or incomplete.
7. The reader may question the validity and accuracy of the narrator's opinions.
8. The first person narrator can get across dialect, education, age, etc. in ways another point of view
9. This point of view works well in a mystery or detective story with the detective not the criminal as
the narrator. It also works well when a child or a disabled person is the narrator. This point of
view relies on a strong character; however, this point of view is seldom selected if the story is
about a mysterious character. This kind of story often requires an outside narrator who
represents the reader and is more average and normal than the character about whom the story
is told. This type of narrator is a bridge narrator, a narrator who forms a bridge between the
unusual main character and the more ordinary reader.
Non-participant (also called third person point of view)
Pronouns: he, she, him, her, they, them and a character's name. Students must be able to identify
single third person pronouns and plural third person pronouns.
1 . omniscient narrator: the author can enter the minds of all the characters. The word
omniscient means all seeing and represents a god-like perspective.
2. selective or limited omniscient narrator the author limits his omniscience to the minds of
a few of the characters, or to a single character.
3. objective narrator: the author does not enter a single mind, but instead records what can
be seen and heard.
This type of narrator is like a camera or a fly on a wall.
Results of the non-participant point of view
1. The omniscient point of view allows great freedom in that the narrator knows all
there is to know abut the characters, externally and internally. The third person
narrator describes what characters do.
2. The narrator may shift focus from the close view to the larger perspective.
3. The narrator may comment on events and characters, thus explaining their
significance to the reader.
4. This point of view may tell a reader too much. It would never work in a detective or
mystery story unless it was third person limited.
5. It permits the narrator to know things that one or more of the participants do not
6. It allows the reader to piece together the information and draw his or her own
7. It is a more objective and distant point of view which works well when the subject
matter requires more objectivity.
Results of the objective (limited) point of view
1. The author knows everything about a particular character.
2. The story is portrayed though the eyes of one character, and there is a sense of distance
from the other characters.
3. The limited omniscient point of view approximates conditions of life in that only one
character's thoughts are known. The story is more unified through the use of this point of
Second person point of view
Pronouns: you, your
This point of view is rarely used since it requires the reader to be involved in the story or even the
main character. It still survives in the create your own adventure books today. It was last used
extensively in the eighteenth century. It was abandoned because it was awkward and restrictive.
The author may present material by a process of -narrative exposition, in which actions and
conversations are presented in summary rather than in detail;. such a method is called panoramic.
The author may present actions and conversations in detail, as they occur, and objectively -- without
authorial comment; such a method is called scenic. If the scenic method is carried to the point where
the author never speaks in his or her own person and does not ostensibly intrude into the scenes
presented, the author is said to be a self-effacing author.
The point of view once selected by the author, never changes.
Mobile or changing
The point of view particularly in longer works sometimes changes.
Rhetorical shifts in point of view
An author may shift from one character to another; this change in point of view is indicated by
language. The AP tests never ask questions about point of view unless there is a shift either between
multiple points of view or the same point of view at different times in the character's life such as the
child and adult perspective. Point of view is sometimes called perspective by the AP tests. A shift may
be signaled by key words like but or yet, or by changing paragraphs or chapters.
Analysis of a Prose Passage: Description or Narration
A. Description of Place (setting): what description of place can do
1. establish mood, atmosphere
2. define character
3. determine plot
4. set pace
5. give background
6. establish tone
B. Description of Character: three levels of description
1. imagery ( using the five senses, the description establishes a picture of a character or
2. emotional: establish the reader's emotions toward character or place.
3. symbolic: establish the symbolism of character or place.
C. Description and syntax: description relies heavily on adjectives, nouns, and pronouns.
a. single word adjectives: Alone and lost, the child stumbled through the forest
or as predicate adjective: The child was alone and lost.
b. prepositional phrases used as adjectives: The forest with its rocks and broken
branches had become the child's enemy.
c. participles (verb forms used as adjectives): Stumbling through the forest, the child
began to weep.
infinitives used as adjectives: The search party had not a minute to lose.
3. subordinate clauses used as adjectives: The place where they found the child was
near a stream.
or The lost child who only had played hide and seek did not deserve to die.
a. single word nouns:
The child stumbled through the forest.
or as predicate nominative: The lost and stumbling figure was merely a child.
or as objects: The child caught the branch as she fell.
or as an object of a preposition: The child sat beneath a tree.
b. gerunds (verb forms used as nouns): Staying alive was to be the child's greatest
c. infinitives used as nouns: To stay alive was the child's goal.
d. subordinate clauses used as nouns: That shg was lost was obvious.
Repetition of a pronoun such as " my" shows possession and ownership as well as a
strong sense of pride. Watch which pronouns are repeated and why.
Narration relies heavily on verbs and adverbs to advance the plot and tell a story.
1. Single word adverbs: The child walked slowly.
a. or as adverbial nouns which are nouns used as adverbs. The child weighed less
than thirty pounds.
b. or The child had walked less than two miles.
. c. infinitives used as adverbs: Help in a difficult situation is hard to find.
d. subordinate clauses used as adverbs: The child walked as though she were
or The child rested when she could.
or The child cried because she was afraid.
2. Verbs: narration requires strong, specific, and active verbs. The child stumbled through
Not: The child walked through the forest.
Matching sentence length and type to character or setting is very important. A child requires short
sentences which are simple or compound. A complex character requires complex, long sentences or
compound-complex sentences. The same is also true for setting.
Section 4: The Study of Grammar and Composition
"Do It And Cry" List
Certain words and phrases are totally inappropriate for use in formal situations including
literary analysis, research papers, and many types of essays. While these words and phrases are in
common usage for common conversation, they are either grammatically incorrect, or they are empty
expressions which add no meaning to a sentence, or they are redundant.
If you make any of these egregious errors you will be penalized. Proofread your papers
carefully and revise any errors you find. Better yet, sensitize yourself to these errors in the first place
and be aware when you are in the process of making one and avoid it or fix it then and there.
EMPTY EXPRESSIONS--words or phrases that add no meaning to a sentence, yet add unnecessary
padding--LARD. Some of these phrases are so imprecise that they are meaningless except for a
slang situation. Eliminate these expressions entirely or replace them with single words or concise
phrases. It is always a good idea to show your reader rather than tell your reader.
during the month of
due to the fact that
in the amount of
in point of fact
that as a result of
it seems as if
has the capability of
at the present time
always there for me
STATEMENTS OF INTENTION--sometimes phrases slip out of analytical indications and into
as has been clearly shown
as anyone can see
for the reasons stated
as these examples show
this paper will explain
as will be shown
next I will show how
Points do not need to begin "the next point is." You do not need to say "firstly," secondly," and
"lastly." Do not start paragraphs with "another reason is." Do not close with "in conclusion."
Genuine transitions include ordinary words like:
in addition to
REDUNDANCIES--the needless repetition of words and ideas.
each separate thing
pretty in appearance
visible to the eye
ten in number
SECOND PERSON PRONOUNS AND ABBREVIATIONS--are too familiar and colloquial for informal
or formal writing.
QUOTATIONS SHOULD BE EMBEDDED
Quotations should be used carefully and integrated into your writing. Do not let the author of the work
write your paper for you. Do not say, "XYZ as the following quotation shows." Do use quotations as
evidence; do not use gigantic passages. Any passage that takes up a quarter of the page is too long.
Re-cast sentences in which you say anything like the following:
"Someone came but they crept quietly so she didn't hear them." (referring to a singular creeper)
"For this character, their mistake was fatal."
In speech, we use "they" and "their" for singular (but unspecified) referents frequently, but do NOT do
it in writing! Reshape the sentence or break down and use HE, which was considered correct until
These are big no-no's on English papers. Scan carefully.
Write about the characters in present tense. They never lived, so they are not dead. They live
forever, and ever act and suffer, like the figures on the Grecian Urn of Keats.
DO NOT NARRATE: PURSUE AN INVESTIGATION
You are investigating an idea in your paper. Think about what contributes to your investigation:
figurative language, characters, setting, specific lines/speeches, symbols, details, diction, tone. Keep
your idea unified, but remember to investigate whether these aspects of the work support your idea.
Do not use any narration of the story; this is not analytical. You do not have to prove you read the
book by telling the story! AVOID PLOT SUMMARY!
Expressions to avoid in writing essays about literature:
. . . paints a picture in the mind of the reader
. . . is very well written
. . . where the author is coming from
. . . gets his point across
. . . his purpose shows through
. . . states his point in such a way
. . . point he tries to make
. . . proves his point
. . . can relate to what he is saying
. . . makes you feel that
. . . is attempting to prove
. . . knows what he is talking about
. . . is trying to say
. . . seems to stress ("I know not 'seems'"-Hamlet)
. . . is brilliantly written
. . . states in such a fashion that
. . . is a wonderful writer
. . . goes into great detail
. . . is trying to show that
. . . can relate to what he has written
. . . gets right down to the point
. . . sticks to the facts
In my opinion . . . .
In my opinion, I believe (think). . . .
1. Capitalize all geographical names, such as the names of particular countries, states, and cities.
2. Also capitalize the complete names of oceans, rivers, lakes, mountains, parks, etc.
3. Capitalize the words street, avenue, road, boulevard, etc., when they are parts of particular
4. Capitalize the names of particular nationalities, languages, races, and religions.
5. Adjectives that are formed from proper nouns should also be capitalized.
6. Capitalize the names of companies, organizations, buildings, hotels, theaters, etc.
7. Capitalize the complete names of particular schools, colleges, churches, clubs, libraries,
8. Do not capitalize the words a, an, or the or any short preposition (of, in, for, to) when it is part of a
9. Capitalize all nouns and pronouns that refer to God, as well as the Bible.
10. Capitalize the names of particular brands of products.
11. Although brand names are capitalized, the products that they identify are not capitalized.
12. Capitalize the names of the days of the week, the names of months, and the names of holidays
and special days.
13. Do not capitalize the names of the seasons.
14. Capitalize the names of historical events and documents (but not the when it precedes these
15. Do not capitalize the names of school subjects unless the subject is the name of a language or if
it is followed by a course number.
16. Capitalize the first word and all important words in titles of books, stories, poems, etc.
17. Do not capitalize articles (a, an, the), conjunctions (and, or, but) or short prepositions (in, at, with,
on, etc.) in a title unless they are the first word in a title.
18. Capitalize the names of titles of movies, works of art, musical compositions, etc.
19. Capitalize titles that show a person’s profession, rank, or position when they are used as part of a
20. Also capitalize a word that shows family relationship, such as uncle, cousin, or grandmother,
when used with a person’s name or when used by itself in place of the person’s name.
21. When Mother, Father, Dad, etc., are used as names, capitalize them.
22. When mother, father, dad, etc., are used merely to show family relationship, do not capitalize
23. Do not capitalize names of diseases, breeds of dogs, kinds of trees, names of foods, games,
occupations, musical instruments, etc.
24. Remember that the nouns that begin with capital letters are called PROPER NOUNS. Any
ordinary noun becomes a proper noun when it is used as part of a particular name.
25. Capitalize the first word of (1) a sentence (2) a quoted sentence, and (3) a line of poetry or verse.
26. In the salutation of a letter capitalize the first word and all nouns; in the complimentary closing of
a letter, capitalize only the first word.
27. Capitalize the first word of each topic of an outline.
28. Capitalize the pronoun I and the interjection O. Do not capitalize oh unless it begins a sentence.
29. Capitalize words such as South, East, and Northwest when they name particular regions, but not
when they refer to directions.
30. Capitalize names of political parties, religious sects, nations and races.
Independent clauses are most frequently linked by the coordinating conjunctions and, but, or, nor,
for, yet, so.
It rained all morning, but the weather cleared up for the inauguration. (comma before the conjunction)
I did all of my homework, yet I still did not make a good grade on the test.
The clauses in a compound sentence are sometimes linked by a conjunctive adverb such as
accordingly, also, consequently, however, nevertheless, therefore, then. Because the connective
function of these adverbs is weak, a semicolon should be used before them with a comma after them.
Fuel prices declined; consequently, they bought a larger car.
The urban renewal program has many outspoken opponents; nevertheless, some land has already
Jane is my sister; however, I cannot approve what she did this morning.
The subordinate (dependent) clause is linked to the independent one by a subordinating
conjunction. Among the many subordinating conjunctions are:
Two independent clauses:
I learned a great deal. I hated my teacher.
An independent clause + a dependent clause:
Although I learned a lot, I hated my teacher.
Although I hated my teacher, I learned a great deal. I learned a great deal although I hated
Because I hated my teacher, I learned a great deal. I learned a great deal because I hated
A. Place a period at the end of every declarative sentence and of most imperative
Example: Please close the door. We are disturbing the other classes with
B. Place a period after every part of an abbreviation.
P. T. Barnum St. Nicholas N. Dak. A.M.
Exceptions to the rule are certain government agencies and international
NATO FBI IRS UN
II. QUESTION MARKS --Place a question mark after an interrogative sentence (a question) and
after a question that is not a complete sentence.
Example: Do you know what time it is? Can you come? Why? Who?
III. EXCLAMATION POINTS -- Place an exclamation point after an exclamatory sentence and
after an exclamation set off from the sentence.
Example: Great! It’s a hit! Help! Bravo!
A. Introductory Words--Words such as yes, no, well, why, and oh are followed by a
Example: Yes, I can do it. Well, I may go. Oh, we forgot.
B. Introductory Phrases and Clauses--These are followed by a comma.
Participial Phrase: Waiting for the dawn, they grew tired.
Adverbial Clause: While she is watching television, she knits.
Prepositional Phrases: Behind the tree in our yard, we placed the picnic
B. Transposed Words and Phrases--Words and phrases moved to the beginning of the
sentence from their original positions are usually set off by commas.
Example: If possible, wash the car before you leave. Usually, Bob is on
D. Appositives--An appositive is set off by commas unless it is absolutely necessary to
the meaning of the sentence.
Example of appositive needing commas: Mrs. English, my favorite teacher,
came for lunch.
Example of appositive not needing commas: My friend Jane is late again.
E. Parenthetical Expressions--Words used to explain or qualify a statement are set off
by comas. Some common parenthetical expressions are of course, I hope, I think,
for example, and in fact. Conjunctive adverbs used parenthetically are also set off by
commas: however, therefore, nevertheless, etc.
Examples: He pointed out, on the other hand, that most great cooks have
The mayor, however, had not changed her mind.
F. Dates and Address of More Than One Part--Set off every part after the first from the
rest of the sentence.
One part: Joy comes from Michigan.
Two parts: Alden, Michigan, is her hometown.
Three Parts: Her address is 333 Wells Street, Alden, Michigan 19401.
DO NOT PUT A COMMA BETWEEN THE STATE AND THE ZIP CODE!
Her birthday is February 14. (Never put a comma between month and day.)
Her birthday is February 14, 1996.
February 14, 1996, is her birthday.
G. Nonrestrictive Clauses and Phrases--These are set off from the rest of the sentence
by commas. Restrictive clauses and phrases are not.
Nonrestrictive: Greg, eating a banana, entered the room.
Restrictive: The boy eating a banana is Greg.
H. Compound Sentences--Place a comma before the conjunction that join two main
clauses in a compound sentence.
Example: He tried to explain, but she wouldn’t listen. The fog lifted, and the
plane took off.
I. Series--Commas are used to separate the parts of a sentence. No comma is needed
after the last item in a series. Do not use a comma if all parts of the series are joined
by and, or, or nor.
Series of nouns: Popcorn, cookies, and cake were served.
Series of verbs: The engine sputtered, coughed, and died.
Series of phrases: We looked behind the chest, under the bed, and in the closet.
V. THE SEMICOLON
A. A semicolon is placed between the main clause of a compound sentence if no
conjunction is used.
Example: The clock struck; i sounded twice. (semicolon in place of the word
Example: Jim is ready; Mike is not. (semicolon in place of the word but)
B. A semicolon is used between main clauses joined by conjunctive adverbs or by
phrases such as for example, in fact, for instance, nevertheless.
Example: David was small; nevertheless, he was strong.
C. A semicolon is used between main clauses joined by a conjunction if the clause
before the conjunction contains commas.
We ate hot dogs, hamburgers, and salad; but we were still hungry.
The boys were hot, tired, and discouraged; and yet they went on.
D. A semicolon is used between a series of phrases if they contain commas.
We visited London, England; Paris, France; and Rome, Italy.
VI. THE COLON
A. A colon is used to introduce a list of items. Often it is preceded by the words the
following, or as follows. The colon is not used before a series of modifiers or
complements immediately following the verb.
We toured the following states: Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.
The trees were tall, green, and dense. (series of complements)
B. A colon is used to introduce a formal quotation.
He began by saying: “We are gathered here to make a hard decision.”
C. A colon is used between two sentences when the second explains the first. The
second sentence begins with a capital letter.
The players were elated: They had won the homecoming game.
D. A colon is also used
1. after the formal salutation of a (business) letter
Dear Sir or Madam:
2. between hour and minute figures of clock time
3. in Biblical references
4. between the title and subtitle of a book
The Ant: A Fable
5. between numbers referring to volume and pages of books and magazines
Volume V: page 2
VII.THE DASH--A dash is used to show a break or interruption in thought, or after
a series to indicate a summarizing statement.
Example: The evening--a quiet and peaceful one--was perfect for our stroll.
Rubies, pearls, silver, gold coins--all were in the treasure chest.
VIII.PARENTHESES--Parentheses are used to enclose supplementary or
explanatory words. Usually the material enclosed by parentheses is so
loosely related to the main thought that it might be better rewritten as a
Example: Tom (not my brother) was chosen. I wonder (do you?) what the outcome
IX. DOUBLE QUOTATION MARKS--Use double quotation marks to punctuate
the quoted words of a speaker. If the quotation ends in a period, use a comma in its place if there
is more of the sentence to follow. Examples of ways to punctuate direct quotations:
Jane asked, “Do you like pizza?”
John answered, “I love pizza.”
”If you like pizza so much,” interrupted Bill, “then why don’t you order some?”
“I would love to order some pizza,” said John.
“I didn’t mean to start a fight,” said Jane.
“Who’s fighting?” asked Bill. “I just wish I had something to eat.”
Rules for Using the Comma and the Semicolon
1. In a series of three or more words, phrases, or clauses, put a comma between each member
of the series. Notice that there is a comma before the conjunction.
--Words: California, Oregon, and Washington are all on the Pacific Ocean.
--Phrases: Rachel looked at her sister, shook her head sadly, and walked away.
--Clauses: The wheels skidded, the car bucked, but the driver managed to get through the mud
without getting stuck.
Warning: Do not use a comma to separate two verb phrases. The following sentence needs no
Bill looked up and gave a shy smile.
2. Put a comma between two independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction. The
comma goes before the conjunction.
Independent clauses are clauses that could stand alone as complete sentences.
Coordinating conjunctions are and, but, or, nor, for, yet, so.
I pushed the button, but nothing happened.
Armadillos are not too bright, and cars frequently hit them.
3. Put a comma between adjectives—if you could use the word and between them instead of the
her open, smiling face a rough, wild, windy day
If the word and would not sound natural between adjectives, do not put a comma:
a cute little baby the good old days
4. Use commas before and after nonessential (“nonrestrictive”) phrases and clauses, which
are not essential to the flow of the sentence.
--Nonessential phrases: Eula Sue, thinking she was alone, began to laugh.
--Nonessential clauses: Andrew Johnson, who became President on Lincoln’s death, was the
only President to be impeached.
Warning: A common mistake is to put in one comma and leave out the other.
5. Use commas to set off appositives and parenthetical expressions that interrupt the flow of a
An appositive is a noun (plus any other words that describe or modify it) that stands next to
another noun and gives additional information about it.
A parenthetical expression is an expression that does not have a strong grammatical connection
with the rest of the sentence.
Appositive: Mr. Harris, a man of few words, merely shook his head.
Parenthetical expression: You know, of course, that this is silly.
6. Put a comma after the opening of a friendly letter. (With a business letter, you should use a
Dear Luisa, Dear Mom, Dear Uncle Stan,
7. Put a comma after the closing of a letter.
Yours sincerely, All the best,
8. Put a comma between the day and year of a date.
January 15, 1997 November 29, 1999
9. Put a comma between the name of a city and a state or the name of a city and a
Fort Worth, Texas Missouri City, TX Tallahassee, Florida Paris, France
10. Put a comma before a direct quotation, after words that identify the speaker.
Bill asked, “When do we start?” I answered quickly, “In a minute.”
11. Use a comma to set off a person’s name when he or she is being spoken to. (A name used
this way is called a noun of address.)
Yes, Mr. Phillips, I can hear you. Do you think so, Ellie?
I’m afraid, Mrs. Jackson, that this spot will not come out.
12, Use a comma after an introductory word that does not have a strong connection to the rest
of the sentence.
Well, I guess so. Yes, I know. Say, are you ready yet?
13. Use a comma after a series of prepositional phrases that start a sentence.
At three o’clock in the morning, I suddenly woke up.
After the first act of the play, the critics all left.
NOTE: After a single prepositional phrase at the beginning of a sentence, you do not usually
need a comma. You may put one in, however, to avoid confusion or if the phrase is a very long
one. You also should put in a comma if the phrase is a weak connection with the sentence as a
whole. (Rule 12)
14. Put a comma after an introductory participial phrase.
A participial phrase is a phrase built around the verb form known as a participle. There are two
kinds of participles you should be aware of:
--present participles (participles ending in –ing):
eating taking loving fooling
--past participles (the verb form that is often found after the helping verbs have or has):
eaten taken loved fooled
Participles are words that are formed from verbs, but participial phrases are not part of the verb of
a sentence. In most cases, a participial phrase acts something like a prepositional phrase.
Walking all alone, I finally had time to look at the countryside.
Eaten by time and termites, the old house finally crumbled.
Hated by everyone, the dictator was finally forced to flee.
Smiling to herself, Judy walked out of the room.
15. Put a comma after a dependent clause that begins a sentence, also known as an introductory
--a dependent clause is a clause with a subject and a verb, usually introduced by words such as
if, because, although, after, before, when, etc.
If we leave early, we will get there before noon.
Because the lead actor got sick, the play folded a week early.
Before you know it, we will be there.
16. Put a semicolon between two independent clauses that are not connected by coordinating
I ran; Jack followed.
Atoms are made up of electrons orbiting an atomic nucleus; the nucleus consists of protons
Reminder: A semicolon is often used to fix a run-on sentence.
16. Use a semicolon between clauses that are connected with a word such as however.
The following words are often used to connect two clauses:
however nevertheless therefore moreover thus
When any of these words begins the second clause—
--a semicolon goes before it, and
--a comma goes after it.
I thought we had enough; however, we needed more.
Subject-Verb Agreement Rules
1. Always use a singular verb if your subject is singular.
2. The verbs is, am, was, has, and does are singular. Have is singular only when it is used with the
3. The pronouns he, she, and I are singular.
4. Always use a singular verb if the subject is each, one, every, either, neither, a person, any
one, anyone, anything, any thing, any body, anybody, everyone, every one, every thing,
everything, everybody, every body, someone, some one, some thing, something, some
5. Always use a singular verb if you have two or more singular subjects joined by or or nor. Ex.
Either the box or the carton (is, are) too heavy.
6. Always use a singular verb if you have two or more subjects joined by or or nor if the subject
closest to the verb is singular (even if the other subject or subjects are plural).
Ex. Either the boys or the girl (is, are) talking too much.
7. Always use a singular verb with a collective noun when the group is thought of and a plural verb
when the individuals are thought of.
Ex. The jury was asked to leave the room. (jury considered a group)
Ex. The jury were voting on individual ballots. (jury considered as individuals)
8. Always use a singular verb with nouns that end in s but are really singular in idea.
Ex. Mathematics is my favorite subject. Social Studies is first period.
9. Remember that doesn’t means does not and should be used with a singular subject.
10. Remember that the subject of a sentence will never be found inside a prepositional phrase. The
box of cookies (is, are) on your desk. (box is the subject, not cookies)
11. The words all, most, some, and such are singular when they refer to quantity; they are plural
when they refer to number.
Most of the work (has, have) been done. (quantity--you cannot count work)
Most of my shoes (is, are) worn out. (number--you can count shoes)
12. Singular subjects connected by and which denote the same person or thing require a singular
My friend and former student (was, were) on the bus. (same person)
My friend and my former student (was, were) on the same bus. (two people)
13. Expressions that indicate a quantity or amount which are considered as a unit require a singular
14. The verbs are, were, have, and do are plural.
15. Use a plural verb if your subject is plural. (The boys are lazy.)
16. The pronouns you, we, and they are plural.
17. The rule is to use a plural verb when you have a compound subject joined by the word and. Ex.
Jerry and Jane are my friends.
18. Always use a plural verb if you have two or more subjects joined by or or nor if the subject closest
to the verb is plural.
Ex. Either the girl or the boys (is, are) talking too much.
19. Remember that don’t means do not and should be used with a plural subject.
20. The words both, few, many, other, and several are plural and should be used with a plural verb.
21. When the words “both and” join the parts of a compound subject, the verb should be plural. Ex.
Both the trunk and the box (has, have) been packed.
Both the man and the boys (was, were) helping us move.
22. A compound subject joined by the words “not only but also” should also be given a plural verb.
Ex. Not only my father but also my mother (is, are) proud of my grades.
Use of Transitional Words or Phrases
For ADDITION again, also, and, besides, equally important, finally, further,
furthermore, in addition, last, likewise, moreover
For CLARIFICATION as a matter of fact, clearly, evidently, in fact, in other words,
obviously, of course, too
For COMPARISON also, likewise, in like manner, similarly
For CONTRAST after all, although, at the same time, but, conversely, for all
that, however, in contrast, in spite of, nevertheless,
notwithstanding, on the contrary, on the one hand, on the
other hand, still, yet
For EXEMPLIFICATION for example, for instance, that is, thus
For LOCATION above, adjacent to, below, beyond, close by, elsewhere,
inside, nearby, next to, opposite, within
For RESULT accordingly, as a result, because, consequently, hence, in
short, thus, then
For SUMMARY in brief, in conclusion, in short, to sum up, to summarize
For TIME after, after a short time, afterward, at the time, before,
during, immediately, of late, formerly, presently, since,
shortly, thereupon, until, while temporarily, at last, now
Principal Parts of Irregular Verbs
INFINITIVE PAST PAST PARTICIPLE
bear bore (have) borne
beat beat (have) beaten or beat
begin began (have) begun
bite bit (have) bitten
blow blew (have) blown
break broke (have) broken
bring brought (have) brought
burst burst (have) burst
catch caught (have) caught
choose chose (have) chosen
come came (have) come
creep crept (have) crept
dive dived (have) dived
do did (have) done
draw drew (have) drawn
drink drank (have) drunk
eat ate (have) eaten
fall fell (have) fallen
fling flung (have) flung
fly flew (have) flown
freeze froze (have) frozen
get got (have) gotten
give gave (have) given
go went (have) gone
grow grew (have) grown
know knew (have) known
lay laid (have) laid
lead led (have) led
lend lent (have) lent
lie lay (have) lain
lose lost (have) lost
ride rode (have) ridden
ring rang (have) rung
rise rose (have) risen
run ran (have) run
say said (have) said
see saw (have) seen
set set (have) set
sing sang (have) sung
speak spoke (have) spoken
spring sprang (have) sprung
steal stole (have) stolen
sting stung (have) stung
swear swore (have) sworn
swim swam (have) swum
swing swung (have) swung
take took (have) taken
tear tore (have) torn
throw threw (have) thrown
wear wore (have) worn
write wrote (have) written
The best proof that a work of literature does what you say it does is textual evidence: words
and sentences you can cite from the poem, story, or play you are discussing. If you say that a
character in a story is evil, can you quote a passage in which he clearly says or does something evil
or a passage in which a reliable character or narrator talks of his evil? The best support you have as
you discuss a literary work is the text of the work itself.
As you incorporate textual evidence into your discussion the use of quotations, there are some
rules you should keep in mind.
1. Do not overuse quotations. The style of your writing will be better if you incorporate quoted
phrases into your own sentence structure rather than writing a sentence and then quoting a
sentence or poetic line.
Ineffective Richard Cory was very polite. "He was a gentleman from sole to crown."
Also he was good-looking, even regal-looking-- "clean favored, and
Effective Richard Cory was polite, "a gentleman from sole to crown." Like a
handsome king he was "clean favored, and imperially slim."
2. Avoid having two quotations in a row. Your own commentary should bridge the two.
Ineffective Richard Cory had everything going for him. "He was a gentleman from
sole to crown." "And he was rich-- yes, richer than a king."
Effective Richard Cory had everything going for him. Not only was he a
"gentleman from sole to crown," he was also "richer than a king."
3. Work the quotation comfortably into your sentence structure.
Ineffective "Darkened by the gloomiest of trees" shows just how frightening the
Effective The forest, "darkened by the gloomiest of trees," was a frightening
4. Longer quotations (more than two lines of verse or four lines of prose) should be set off from your
paragraph in display form: double-spaced and double-indented without quotation marks.
Dickinson describes the numbness that comes with the shock of the loss of a loved one:
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs--
The stiff Heart questions was it He, that bore,
And Yesterday, or Centuries before?
5. Separate lines of poetry running within your sentence with a slash (/), and preserve the
capitalization of words at the beginning of the line.
The speaker notes that the bruised heart of the mourner wonders "was it He, that
bore, / And Yesterday, or Centuries before?”
You are allowed to alter the structure, as long as you do not alter the meaning of the lines.
original lines of poetry
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim
alterations of punctuation and capitalization required by the student’s sentence structure
Richard Cory, “clean favored, and imperially slim,” was from head to toe a gentleman.
7. If, for clarity or sentence structure, you must alter a quotation, place the alteration in brackets.
With Heaven above and Faith below, I will yet stand firm against the devil.
alterations for clarity and consistency in sentence structure
Goodman Brown claims that “with Heaven above and Faith below, [he] will yet stand firm
against the devil.”
Goodman Brown hoped that “with Heaven above and Faith below [he would] yet stand firm
against the devil.”
8. If you omit material in order to be succinct, mark the omission by three periods (called an ellipsis)
with a space between each (. . .). Note: there is no need to use these routinely at the beginning
and end of your quotations. It is understood that you are lifting passages from a longer work.
Montresor tells us that when it- came to "painting and gemmary, Fortunato . . . was a
9. Be sure to name the source of the quotation correctly.
• In nonnarrative poetry (poetry in which characters do not appear in a plot), it is correct to say
"The speaker says…” not "The poet says…”
• In narrative prose use "the narrator says…” when quoting passages of narration, not "The author
• Identify characters as you quote them.
In Thomas Hardy's "Channel Firing," God answers the people in their graves with "Ha, ha. It will
be warmer when / I blow the trumpet."
• When quoting dialogue between characters in a play, set it off and begin a new line as you quote
each character. Place the character's name in front of his line.
Later in the play Hamlet confronts his mother:
HAMLET: Now, mother, what's the matter?
QUEEN: Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offended.
Section 5: Learning Activities
Précis a la Jay
Whenever you are assigned to do a précis, these are the rules you will follow:
1. Your précis will be a single sentence summary of the point of the work (theme).
2. Use present tense.
3. Use active voice
4. Use elevated language, not conversational or colloquial.
5. You must indicate the type of literature
6. You must include the title and author
7. You must indicate irony (if it exists).
8. You must describe tone and shifts.
As we study literature this year, you will be orally proving your understanding of the texts by
presenting oral defenses.
Oral defenses- oral presentations in which you state a belief about the work assigned (thesis
statement) and defend this belief by offering proof from the literature. Oral defenses will be
complemented by a typed handout for each class member.
Procedure for Oral Defenses:
1. You will be offered a choice of oral defense topics
2. You will be assigned a topic and a small group of students with whom you will work
3. Class time may be offered for group discussion, but this will not always be the case. You will be
expected to work with your group out of class (by phone or group meeting) Always exchange
4. To prepare for oral defense:
a. Determine your thesis statement for the topic (your "answer" to the topic question in a few
sentences, the overview of the presentation)
b. Delegate tasks- assign specific parts of the question to group members
c. Locate the proof (find direct quotations and examples from the text, be ready to direct the
class to your proof by page number or paragraph/line number)
d. Check your group findings (watch for duplicate proof, inconsistency- Determine the order of
speakers, determine weak areas, prepare to cover students not prepared)
e. Prepare yourself for your oral presentation (practice what you will say- create notes or an
outline and mark proof with post it notes)
f. Plan your hand out and prepare same ( one page, typed, to show group's findings)
5. The presentation:
a. All group members must speak
b. Each group member will be graded individually
c. Note: the complete topic is expected to be presented to the class. If one of your group
members does not seem prepared, make sure you are ready to cover his/her aspect of the
topic- this will increase your grade, while the student who is not prepared will lose points.
d. Class members may ask questions or add points after the presentation. I may interrupt the
presentation if material proves to contain "incorrect" information.
e. Time limit- each oral defense is limited to 15 minutes
Discussion Leaders' Responsibilities:
• plot review- events and actions
• new characters, new settings, new periods of time
• passages of importance
• symbols, imagery, allusions
• interesting stylistic traits, fictional devices
• importance of reading to overall novel so far
• updates on the main characters, new revelations
Reading/oral defense tasks:
You will, in small groups, take on the burden or joy of preparing the full class discussion for the
readings assigned. I will act as a participant during your discussions, rather than the facilitator.
However, specific content questions will be addressed to me, before you begin. You will be expected
to assume my role as the person who leads the class through the important passages and aspects of
your assigned reading. You must be prepared to lead discussion, rather than answer questions.
The structure of the class period is up to your group. You may include activities such as:
questioning the class, pointing out passages for closer inspection, offering possible theses regarding
the pages assigned, asking the class to perform tasks or small assignments, any creative tasks you'd
care to think of, discussion of hand outs you create.
To guide you through this process, I have suggested possible topics to be covered in the class
discussions. Your focus for the assigned reading may be broad or narrow, depending upon what your
group feels is important to point out to, or "teach," the class. Possible topics you may choose to
1. plot development-structure/importance of events to theme
2. character development- connections to other novels
3. conflicts established or developed
5. philosophical influence or social beliefs that are developed
6. stylistic traits of the author
7. thematic possibilities
8. connection to other works/authors
1. You are expected to be in class on the day your group leads the discussion
2. If you choose to be absent, you will be given one day to thoroughly discuss the entire reading
assigned your group, in written format (this will be given a late grade)
3. You may spilt tasks among your group members- be sure that there is little overlapping of
information- you should work together.
4. You may split tasks either by role (discussion leader, questioner, passage reader, spokesperson
for thesis, relation to other works....) or You may split tasks by information to be emphasized with
every person leading a certain part of the discussion.
5. THIS IS NOT JUST AN ORAL DEFENSE- you must include all individuals in the class discussion
and prepare activities for them.
Purpose: To examine development of thematic topics in the literary work; to determine and convey
the author's attitude about the topic.
1. Meet in your groups. Each group will work with a particular thematic topic, showing the
development of the topic from beginning to end, including any complications or shifts.
2. Students will determine the most significant lines from the'Work which develop their theme and
reveal the author's attitude toward the theme. Each group must have three passages for each
member of the group. Sometimes a character's passage is long, so the group will have to decide
how to edit it to adequately support the topic, and limit it to no longer than a couple of sentences.
A final key is that the groups' lines must be found throughout the work: beginning, middle, and
end. Students may not rely solely on one portion of the work.
3. Students write their group's vignettes in the form of a script, indicating the character speaking and
any other generic convention of drama the students wish to include in the script writing
(parentheticals indicating tone, facial expressions). Speakers alternate through the script, until
each student has spoken thrice. The group will determine the order of speakers, numbers of
characters introduced, chronology of development, positioning of character/speakers, and any
other creative aspects. Scenes are "frozen”: there is no moving, no acting. The group take their
positions for their lines, recite from this frozen position, and after each person has spoken then
move to the next positions for the next set of lines. Emphasis is on the spoken word - the only
thing that may aid that spoken word is the frozen symbolic positioning of the cast, and the tone
4. Students prepare performance of the script. Directions for preparation and performance:
a. To deliver your lines, all freeze into positions (as determined during script writing) while the
first speaker comes to life, indicates the character's identity (the character's name) and
delivers his/her lines in proper volume and tone. Upon completing the lines, the first speaker
returns to frozen position. If the positioning symbolizes the characters well, there may be no
need to indicate who is speaking. The next speaker then comes to life and delivers his/her
lines. This is repeated until the entire group has spoken the first set of lines.
b. "a" is repeated until the entire performance is delivered.
c. The group should write several lines as an introduction and ending, assigned however the
group decides. The introduction and ending should explain the purpose of the vignette, i:e.,
your thesis statement. (Thematic topic, author's purpose and attitude conveyed)
d. Students should understand that the emphasis should always be on the power of the words
chosen, including their placement in the order of delivery and the manner in which they are
spoken, not on action.
5. Grades will be based on following directions on this page and:
a. Effectiveness of introduction and ending
b. Complete, typed script turned in before presentation (intro, chosen lines in chosen order,
c. Persuasive and clear delivery of lines, indicating the author's attitude toward the topic, with
appropriate volume, tone, inflection, while group members are frozen.
d. Attentive and appreciative participation as an audience member.
Seek First to Understand
What is a Socratic seminar?
The seminar is designed to enable participants to explore a text, a problem, and an experience- It is
the participants' opportunity and responsibility to ask questions and explore each other's answers.
The seminar is designed to enable participants to come together to share perspectives, gain insights
from issues, texts, questions, problems, and/or experiences they have in common. The working
assumption of a seminar is that the group comes together to achieve a more thoughtful and common
understanding. The purpose is to “uncover" not "cover" a subject's more subtle aspects.
A seminar provides learners a synthesizing experience of prior teaching and learning activities where
you have a chance to pull ideas together, ask follow-up questions, and explore different points of view
about what has been observed and learned.
The participant's job is to explore the text for meaning and to seek and dig for insights. All participants
must take equal responsibility for the quality of the talk-, all take responsibility for leading (or at least
policing) discussions, proposing alternative paths of conversation, Insuring that other views are
heard, and using deliberate strategies to ensure that talk moves beyond the obvious, superficial, or
Therefore, you cannot sit passively and await answers or say whatever pops into your mind. You
must prepare by completing:
I, Read the information about writing questions. Prepare a list of questions you want answered
during the seminar
2. Choose one of your questions and prepare an Outline on one possible answer. Then list any
alternative possibilities that you can come up with for the question.
3 Prepare a not sheet that lists main ideas and p a-ge numbers for easy reference during the
seminar. You will be expected to refer to specific textual references during the discussions. Exact
quotes will be extremely important.
Preparing Seminar Questions
OPENING QUESTIONS (1 QUESTION)
Broad generalization that directs into the text for an answer
Introduces and explores topics, ideas, themes
"What's going on here?"
"Why do you think it has this title?"
"Finish the statement- 'This is really a story about ... (theme)'."
"Reflect about (insert topic) and then share."
CORE QUESTIONS (2-5 QUESTIONS)
Examines central points
Interprets a passage, explores a quotation
Often a "how" or "why" question
What is meant by "of the people, by the people, and for the people”?
Why does the author call it a "crystal stair”?
Who is the "savage" here?
CLOSING QUESTION (I QUESTION)
Connection with real world
Application to self
How have we answered Chief Seattle's prophecy?
Is your school more in the business of schooling or educating?
Are you more of a city or a country mouse?
General Guidelines for Questions
Focus on the Goal
To enlarge understanding by exploring ideas and issues of text, not to establish facts
Use open-ended questions
Avoid yes/no without follow-ups, not fact questions
Keep questions value Free
Participants make judgements, connections; questioners remain neutral
Questions have meat
Can the questions be explored in the text for 15-20 minutes? Does it prompt thinking beyond
the obvious? It shouldn't be answerable without reading the text. Questions arise from
experiences, events, and language that are common to all.
Follow the order of question types
Ask follow-up questions
To clarify, probe (Are you saying that ... ? Where in the text do you find support for that?
What is your point? )
Checklist for Conducting Socratic Seminars
• Ask a series of questions that give direction to the discussion
• Be sure the questions are understood and rephrase them until they are understood
• Raise issues that lead to further questions
• Ask questions which allow for a range of answers deserving consideration and demanding
• Allow for discussion of conflict or differences
• Examine answers and draw out implications or reasons
• Insist that answers are clear or rephrased until they are clear
• Request that reasons be given for answers
• Be open to questions and issues raised by answers
• Do not insist upon common agreement
• Be an active listener
• Solicit all sides of an issue
• Be an active listener
• Correct only facts or textual evidence
Write a response statement to the seminar:
How did you prepare for the seminar? Was your preparation adequate? What did you learn from
participation? What will you do differently to make preparation more effective next time?
One week from end of seminar:
Using the question you wrote for your pre-seminar outline, respond to it once more. In the light of the
seminar discussion, how would you now answer the question? What aspects of the topic still need to
be explored? What new questions or issues were raised by the seminar?
Compose a thesis statement based on your knowledge as it has changed or revised. Write a formal
paper using specific references from the text.
Students will be chosen at random to be “in the fishbowl,” the inner circle that will do the actual
Others will listen, note topics, and may take the “revolving” chair if they have response to make to a
Anyone taking the “revolving” chair may only respond to a point made by someone in the circle and
must leave immediately after the one comment. No one may return to the chair until someone else
has made a comment.
After a set time, a new group of “fish” will be in the bowl.
For different fishbowls, different topics will be emphasized, but always be ready to discuss the
Techniques: any that apply to the work
Structure of the work: uniqueness and how it contributes to meaning
Major themes and concepts
Always bring critical reviews and your own notes.
Always be ready to site pages and provide direct quotes to support any point. (This is a major
necessity to receive points.)
1. If particular topics are assigned to the group—stay on those topics and support them from
the texts and outside sources.
2. If no topic is assigned, anyone may introduce a point or ask a question of the group.
3. Each person should be allowed to respond to a point before new topics are introduced.
4. Off topic comments will lose points. If the situation continues, the person will be removed
from the bowl.
5. Common courtesy is expected by all participants to allow each member to have opportunity
to participate. Anyone monopolizing the discussion will be penalized and if the behavior
continues will be asked to leave the bowl.
6. You are more than free to disagree with anyone’s points, but you are NOT free to
personally attack any member.
I will keep tallies of comments and more importantly of the quality and depth of the statements.
Different fishbowls will have different points (grades) depending on the situations.
Use these general instructions for all fishbowl activities.
Variations will be explained when the particular assignment is made.
We will be doing an activity in which different students will assume the roles of characters in the work.
When you assume a role, you will be expected to “become” that character. You will speak in the first
person and exhibit as closely as you can the characteristics and attitude of that person. You will
display the likes/dislikes, emotions, conflicts, and proper relationships to other characters that this
person has at whatever point in the work the spectogram is occurring.
One person will be the “main character” or the target.
This person will initially answer a few questions about his/her character’s emotions and situation at
that point in time.
The target will then be asked to “place” the other characters in positions that indicate his emotional
closeness to or distance from each person. Elevation (standing, sitting, reclining) also indicates
1. Target places each character, describing reasons for placement. After everyone is placed,
target should make sure each character is placed according to how he or she feels.
2. Individual characters may speak to the target about their own positions. They must speak in
the first person only. Anyone who wants to speak must say how he or she feels first. Target
may decide to move the character, but only if he or she agrees with the comment.
3. Any character may talk to any other character about anyone’s placement. Target may or may
not decide to move the character. At the end of this phase, target should survey all the
positions to make sure they are where he or she wants them.
All characters retain positions, but discard personas. Audience is asked for comments,
disagreements. Prompts: Why did the target place a character as he did? What does
position/distance tell you about a character? As a character how did you feel when you were placed
where you were?
Follow-up Activities. You may be asked to do some or all of the following activities.
1. Draw out the spectogram as it was at the conclusion. Identify each character and his
elevation and position in relation to the other characters.
2. List the major characters, and comment on what you learned about each—basic personality,
conflicts, fears, loves, etc. Base this on what you learned from the spectogram. Do you
agree or not?
3. What was revealed about the main character as he placed other characters? What is his
attitude about himself? What is he thinking at this point? What does his placement of the
person closest to him reveal about his own personality? What could you tell about the main
character from his body language and demeanor?
4. What thematic ideas of the play were hinted at or partially developed in the spectogram of
this specific scene?
5. What other responses did you have during the shaping of this spectogram, and why do you
think you reacted in such a manner? Use evidence from the work to justify your explanation.
Learning Through Discussion
1. List some of the unusual and/or important words from this reading with definitions. Continue
on the back if necessary.
2. Do a Somebody Wanted But So sentence.
3. State the author’s main point in one sentence.
4. List three main subtopics of themes and write out one comment and one question for each.
Use complete sentences for all.
4. How does this work relate to something else from another work or actual events?
5. What is your evaluation of this selection? Why?
A major book publisher is creating a new series of great books that will be presented with companion
pieces of great art. You and your classmates have been hired to produce one of thee great books/art
projects for a work you have read.
Phase I: The Great Book
A. Select what you and your group members consider to be the 5 key scenes in the book (or
one in the chapter). For each scene you have chosen, write a short (25 word) rationale for
why this scene is critical to the book as a whole (to the chapter).
B. Analyze each scene you have chosen in the following way:
1. Determine what the major focus of the scene is—plot, character or setting.
2. Identify dominant sensory imagery in the scene—those descriptions that appeal to
the senses; make sure to note key visual elements.
3. Describe the mood or tone of the scene. Choose two to three vivid adjectives to
describe the mood; do not merely say “sad,” but aim for precision in word choice.
Include adjectives that reveal activity, sounds, and smells, not merely emotions.
4. Select directly from the text five to ten key words that your group feels embody the
gist of the scene.
5. Select three of four colors that you feel reflect the overall tone and mood of the
scene; the colors need not be mentioned in the text.
C. Peruse works of art. Find a work that would be appropriate for each of the five scenes you
D. Pair your scenes with a work of art. Download, borrow my slides, transparencies or poster on
the wall, or check in the art books on the shelf.
E. You will either turn in your comments, rationales, and art works or present them orally to the