Essay #1: Poetry Analysis
T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats introduces us to a series of poems that are easy to understand for readers of all ages. The colorful cats entertain us with their antics while Eliot amuses us with his fabricated words to achieve a certain rhythmic sound in his verse. Yet, even the simplest of texts say more than we initially think. In fact, they often reveal a specific theme that the author wants us to remember as we go about our everyday lives. This essay will allow you to explore the ways in which Eliot does this very thing.
To begin this essay, select a single theme that you see illustrated in Eliot’s poems. Remember, a theme is a commentary that is made on a subject. For example, “Death” is not a theme; it is a subject. However, “Death is the great equalizer that controls our everyday actions” is a theme. So, whatever theme that you select, it will not simply be one word.
Once you have selected your theme, you will need to select at least 3 poems from Practical Cats that you believe illustrate it. In other words, this theme will be a recurring one throughout the collection. In an argumentative analysis, you will develop a thesis that answers the following question: how is this specific theme the most dominant and important one in Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats?
A thesis statement for this essay should be structured like the following example: “Through its contrasting river and shore scenes, Twain's Huckleberry Finn suggests as its dominant and most important theme that to find the true expression of American democratic ideals, one must leave ‘civilized’ society and revert back to nature.”
Your line of reasoning will be based on proving how the theme is illustrated in each of the poems. Therefore, each paragraph will be developed around a specific poem from the collection. You will need to integrate quotes from each of the poems throughout the essay to illustrate your claims.
Please use the PIE format to develop your body paragraphs and use textual evidence (direct quotation) to illustrate your ideas. By the very nature of PIE, quotations should appear in the middle of a paragraph, not at the beginning nor at the end. Each quotation must be integrated using some form of attributive tag. “Dropped quotes” are not acceptable.
You will be required to construct a Works Cited page for this assignment according to MLA guidelines. I will not accept any essay that does not have one. Outside research is not required for this assignment.
Your essay will be assessed on the following criteria:
Development of a thesis statement that answers the question posed
Development of a specific line of reasoning that proves the thesis
Specific topic sentences that provide reasons for the thesis
Use of the PIE format to organize and sequence your ideas
Use of the MLA format and Works Cited page
Avoiding excessive summary; you are writing an analysis
Depth of critical thought, creativity, and originality
Your rough draft must be reviewed by the Writing Center by the specified date. Final drafts will be 5-7 pages in length. Please refer to the syllabus for additional information about grading.