write a 3 page explication paper on the passage given below:
“My friends, it is decided: as soon as possible
I must kill my children and leave this land
Before I give my enemies a chance
To slaughter them with a hand that’s moved by hatred.”
this passage is from Medea by Euripedes.
I will need a first draft of the paper by monday night
more instructions will be uploaded to my account.
Chaucer: How to Write an Explication (and many other types of literary) Essay
• Have an informative title, one that will clue your reader into your paper topic. Titles like: “Sexual Ambiguity in the Pardoner’s Description,” “Nicholas’s False Annunciation,” are much more informative than titles like: “Explication Essay” or “Essay on Chaucer,” which tell the reader virtually nothing about your topic.
• Begin your introductory paragraph by discussing in a general way some aspect of the poem (or whatever text) you are explicating, then quickly narrow your focus to the passage that you are explicating: “Chaucer’s description of the Prioresse focuses on her obsession with courtly behavior and her love of earthly pleasures, such as fine food and stylish clothing. Chaucer skillfully and playfully, under a guise of admiration, shows how unfit the Prioresse is for her vocation.” Avoid discussion of poetry or literature in general, or literary techniques. Do not inform your reader, for example, that “Chaucer wrote a lot of estates satire,” or “close examination of a passage of a poem can shed light on the entire poem,” or “literature is full of symbolism and feelings.” The reader already knows these general ideas and stating them adds nothing useful or substantial to your paper. Focus on your topic.
• At the end of the introductory paragraph, state your thesis, which needs to be a debatable claim about the passage you are explicating: “The description of the Prioresse’s beads and broach in Lines 157 to 162 of Chaucer’s ‘General Prologue,’ use language, especially double meanings, imagery, and rhyme to emblematize the Prioresse’s preoccupation with worldly matters under a thin veneer of religious devotion.” The thesis should NOT be a statement of purpose, such as: “In this essay, Chaucer’s’s use of language, imagery, and rhyme to emblematize the Prioresse’s preoccupation with worldly matters under a thin veneer of religious devotion will be examined.” A statement of purpose is not a claim, and it leaves your paper without a central argument to hold it together. A focused, intelligent, debatable claim, however, gives your paper a clear argument and makes your paper sound confident, informed, and forceful.
• Each paragraph between the introduction and conclusion of your paper needs to focus on a particular aspect of the passage you are explicating, such as subject matter, themes, imagery, rhyme and meter, etc. Avoid explicating the passage phrase by phrase or line by line, as this will cause your argument to jump from one aspect of the passage to another and back again, which will make your organization and your argument unfocused.
• Stick to one aspect of the passage (i.e., one main idea) per paragraph and discuss/develop that aspect thoroughly in that paragraph.
• Make your transitions between sentences and between paragraphs/main ideas smooth. The first sentence of each paragraph after the introduction needs to link the main idea of the last paragraph with the main idea in the new paragraph. A good way to find this link would be to figure out what the main idea of the last paragraph might have in common with the main idea of the new paragraph. For example, if you are writing about your passage’s use of symbolism in one paragraph and its use of language in the next, you might start out the new paragraph with a statement about how the passage’s language enhances or emphasizes its symbolism.
• Avoid abrupt transitions (suddenly starting on a new topic without any warning) and additive transitions (marked by the overuse of phrases such as “In addition to,” “also,” “Furthermore,” “Next,” “finally,” “in conclusion”). Abrupt or additive transitions weaken your argument.
• Support your claims about the passage with brief, frequent quotes from the passage, references to events and details in the passage, and, if relevant, quotes from elsewhere in the poem (especially in the paragraph where you show how the passage relates to the whole poem). See Citing Poetry sheet for more details. Remember to analyze your passage; that is, show how the language, meter, imagery, etc., work. Since an explication paper is supposed to analyze a passage in detail, it is a good idea to have at least two quotes (remember, they can be brief) per paragraph, excluding the introductory paragraph.
• Write for an audience who has read the poem before and is reasonably familiar with it, and who is already familiar with the process of close analysis. You don’t need to explain to your reader how and/or why you are doing a close analysis—just do it.
• Remember that you are writing an analysis, not a reader response. The reader of your paper wants to know your thoughts about the poem, not your feelings about it. Make your tone objective and analytical, not emotional or gushy. Don’t write about how beautiful the passage is and why it makes your soul thrill; write about how the passage works in terms of language, imagery, meter, themes, etc., and why it is so effective. Certainly you can discuss a passage’s ability to evoke certain emotional responses in readers, but make the discussion objective and make your explanations as precise and reasonable.
• Use standard, clear, straightforward, formal written English. Consult Strunk and White’s Elements of Style for grammar, language, and style matters. Don’t, however, mistake wordy, ponderous language and syntax (sentence structure) for formal English. Use the active voice whenever possible; avoid the passive voice and avoid wordiness. Use direct statements rather than rhetorical questions. Avoid the use of colloquial (casual) language and slang—putting a colloquial or slang term in quotation marks does not make it formal English.
• Use the third person voice only (“The passage appeals to the reader’s sense of touch,” “The Knight uses solar imagery throughout the passage,” “Chaucer’s use of classical mythology is most evident in this line,” etc.); this will make your argument sound more informed and subjective. Avoid entirely the use of the first person voice (“I think,” “As we can see,” “The passage appeals to us because,” etc.) and the second person voice (“You can see how,” “Notice the poet’s use of sun imagery,” etc.) because using the first and second person voices can make your argument seem subjective. Also, it is unnecessary to qualify your argument with phrases like “I believe,” “In my opinion,” etc., because the reader already knows that your paper consists of your own thoughts and speculations.
• The conclusion of your paper needs to be an exploration, rather than a summary. Your audience has read your paper and does not need to have the argument rehashed. Rather, in your conclusion, explore the implications of your thesis as they pertain to the text as a whole. Think of this as your “so what?” paragraph. What significance do your claims about the passage have on the interpretation of the entire text? How might your argument change the way that readers think about/react to the text?
• Write your paper in several drafts over several days—start as early as possible and allow yourself plenty of time for revisions. Make an outline. Work in several two-three hour sessions, rather than one or two long, marathon sessions. Save your work frequently. Read your paper aloud when revising. Take your paper to the Writing Center for comments and suggestions. Revise in several sessions: start with revising the argument and organization, and then move to language, grammar, style, and finally to mechanics and proofreading.